An improvised explosive device (IED) attack on a convoy carrying supplies in Burkina Faso’s militantly active northern Sahel has killed at least 35 civilians and wounded 37 others. The information was reported by the news media The Guardian citing the governor of the Sahel region.

Rodolphe Sorgo, governor of the northeastern Sahel region bordering Mali and Niger, said the explosion occurred on Monday as a military-escorted convoy was en route from Borjanga to Jibo, Al-Jazeera reported.

The tri-border area has become the focus of increasing security crisis over the past 10 years. Following the military occupation of Mali and Burkina Faso, Mali has seen increasing attacks by groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) from May 2021 to January this year.

“Dozens of vehicles, including trucks and public transport buses, were damaged in the explosion,” AFP reported, quoting a resident of Jibo. The victims were mainly traders who were going to buy supplies in Ouagadougou and students who were returning to the capital to attend school for the next academic year.’

The explosion followed a series of attacks on the main roads leading to the region’s main cities of Dori and Jibo.

In early August, a double IED blast killed at least 15 soldiers in the area. At least 86 civilians were killed by armed attackers in the northern town of Setenga in June.

Burkina Faso’s military rulers have designated armed groups fighting in the north and east of the country as top terrorists. The army said it had taken “aggressive steps” and had started a dialogue process with some armed groups through religious and local leaders.

Still, the Armed Conflict Locations and Events Data Project recorded more attacks this year in Burkina Faso than in Niger or Mali. The security crisis in the country first started in 2012 with an ethnic separatist movement in the north. Soon after, various armed groups emerged in the central border region.

Nearly one in 10 people in Burkina Faso have been displaced by the conflict and severe food insecurity has nearly doubled since 2021, the Norwegian Refugee Council said. The reason for this is that the country’s land and livestock have been abandoned as a result of the conflict.

(06 Sep)