Suspected extremists have abducted roughly 50 women in insurgency-wracked northern Burkina Faso, local officials and residents told AFP.
Roughly 40 were seized about a dozen kilometers (miles) southeast of Arbinda on Thursday and about 20 others were abducted on Friday to the north of the town, with some escaping in the meantime, the sources said on condition of anonymity.
“The women got together to go and gather leaves and wild fruits in the bush because there is nothing left to eat,” said one of the residents, adding that they had left with their carts on Thursday.
“On Thursday evening, when they didn’t come back, we thought that their carts had had a problem. But three survivors came back to tell us what happened,” said another resident.
According to him, the next day, eight kilometers (five miles) north of Arbinda, about 20 women who were not informed of the first abduction, were in turn taken.
“In both groups, some women managed to escape and returned to the village on foot,” the resident added. “We believe that the kidnappers took them to their bases.”
According to local officials who confirmed the abductions, the army and its civilian auxiliaries have carried out unsuccessful sweeps of the area.
The commune of Arbinda is located in the Sahel region of northern Burkina Faso, an area under blockade by extremist groups and with limited food supplies.
One of the world’s poorest countries, Burkina has been struggling with an extremist offensive since 2015.
Thousands of civilians and members of the security forces have died and around two million people have been displaced.
Disgruntled army officers have carried out two coups this year in a show of anger at failures to roll back the insurgency.
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