OUAGADOUGOU: Seven-teen suspected jihadists and five members of a civil defence militia have been killed in an attack in northern Burkina Faso, security and government sources told AFP Thursday.
“Armed men arriving on about 20 motorbikes attacked the VDP (defence militia) camp in Bilakoka,” located in Burkina’s northern region of Sahel bordering Mali and Niger, on Wednesday, a government official told AFP. “The volunteers repelled the attack, neutralising 17 terrorists. Five VDP members also lost their lives during the attack.”
Raids and ambushes have been concentrated in the north and east close to the borders with Mali and Niger, both of which have also faced deadly violence by jihadists.
More than 1,500 people In Burkina have died and more than 1.3 million have fled their homes, in a population of around 20 million.
In December 2019, the government set up the VDP—the French initials for Volunteers for the Defence of the Motherland—to provide support for the beleaguered armed forces.
Civilian volunteers are given 14 days’ military training and then do auxiliary work such as surveillance and information gathering.
But the toll among this force has been very high. Around 250 have been killed, according to an AFP tally.