At least ten civilians killed in extremist attack in northern Burkina Faso

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Ten civilians, including four security auxiliaries, have been killed by suspected extremists in northern Burkina Faso, a security source said on Tuesday.
Six civilians and four members of the VDP auxiliary force died on Monday in an attack in Sima, in Yatenga province, the source said, adding that “several” others were wounded.

The assailants withdrew after reinforcements and air support arrived, another security official said.

A member of the VDP – the Volunteers for the Defense of the Fatherland – confirmed the attack but gave no toll.

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“Several volunteers are listed as missing,” this source said.

The landlocked Sahel state is wrestling with a seven-year-old extremist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and driven some two million people from their homes.

More than 40 percent of the country is no longer under government control, according to official figures.

Burkina’s elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, was overthrown in January by colonels angered at failures to stem the bloodshed.

After a lull, attacks resumed and have escalated in recent months.

On June 11, 86 people were massacred at Seytenga in the northwest, in one of the bloodiest acts of the long-running insurgency.

Thirty-four villagers were killed on July 2-3 in the north and northwest.

Set up in December 2019, the VDP comprises civilian volunteers who are given two weeks’ military training and then work alongside the army, typically carrying out surveillance, information-gathering or escort duties.

The force has paid a high price. Last Thursday, nine volunteers and four soldiers were killed in Bourzanga, also in the north of the country.

In June, military commanders said the VDP would be reorganized so that it would be “completely integrated into the military and security structure deployed for fighting terrorism.”

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