51 Burkina troops killed by in ambush: new army toll

The army reported on Monday that at least 51 soldiers were killed in an ambush by alleged jihadists in northern Burkina Faso, and that 160 of the attackers perished in counterattacks.

The ambush happened on Friday in the province of Oudalan, which is close to the tense border with Mali and Burkina Faso.

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The army released a statement at the end of Monday stating that “43 fresh bodies have been located, increasing the provisional death toll to 51 soldiers.”

Eight soldiers had already died, according to an earlier estimate provided by the army on Monday morning.

“Operations are continuing with an intensification of air actions that have made it possible to neutralize around 100 terrorists and destroy their equipment,” the military added.

“This figure is in addition to the 60 or so terrorists neutralized since the beginning of the response,” it added.

A terrorist insurgency that began in Burkina Faso’s neighbor Mali in 2015 is being fought there.

Organizations estimate that more than 10,000 people have died as a result of the violence and that two million people have been displaced.

Two coups were attempted last year as a result of military resentment at failures to stop the killing.

According to an AFP count, attacks have increased since the beginning of the year and have claimed more than 100 lives in the previous two weeks.

The army urged the Burkinabe people to “come together around the defense and security forces in these difficult times” in a statement on Monday.

In Friday’s incident, a military patrol was the victim of a “complex” attack between Deou and Oursi in the Sahel region, bordering Mali and Niger.

“Intense fighting” ensued between members of the military unit that had been attacked and “an armed terrorist group,” the army said.

One of the world’s poorest countries, Burkina Faso currently has almost 40% of its territory outside of governmental control.

As Burkina Faso’s junta ordered the withdrawal of the army within four weeks, France, the country’s former colonial master, indicated last month that it would do so.

The plea was made just a few days after Burkina’s Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyelem de Tembela said that Russia would make a “reasonable” new ally in the fight against jihadists.

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