Thirteen civilians have been killed in separate attacks in northern Burkina Faso, a region battling a six-year-old jihadist insurgency, local sources said on Friday.
Eleven people were killed and one was wounded in an attack on Wednesday at the village of Ankouna, the governor of the Centre-North region, Casimir Segueda, said in a statement.
“This attack… targeted the civilian population,” he said, adding that buildings in the local market had been set ablaze.
A local official told AFP that the attack was carried out “by several dozen heavily-armed men” travelling on motorbikes. In a separate attack, two civilian volunteers working with the army’s anti-jihadist campaign were killed at Noaka, also on Wednesday, and stores were put to the torch, the source said.
“The attacks have caused villagers to flee to the town of Kaya,” the main town in the Centre-North region, the official said.
Burkina Faso has been struggling with jihadist attacks since 2015, when militants linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group began mounting cross-border raids from Mali. More than 2,000 people have died, according to a toll compiled by AFP.
The national emergency aid agency says that 1.5 million people, nearly two-thirds of them children, were internally displaced as of November 30.
The country’s security forces are poorly equipped to face a ruthless and highly mobile foe, adept at carrying out hit-and-run raids on motorbikes and aboard pickups. On November 14, a force described as numbering several hundred men attacked a police base at Inata near the Malian border, killing 57 people, including 53 gendarmes.
On December 23, 41 people, including VDP escorts, were killed when a convoy of traders was ambushed near Ouahigouya, also near the Malian frontier.
The fatalities at Noaka were members of the Volunteers for the Defence of the Motherland (VDP), a civilian force set up to support army operations that has lost scores of lives in the past two years.
Volunteers receive 14 days of training and are then sent out on patrols and surveillance missions, equipped with light arms.