Burkina Faso says 28 soldiers, civilians killed in rebel attacks

At least 28 people, including soldiers and civilians, have been killed in two attacks by armed assailants in Burkina Faso, a regional governor and the army said in separate statements.

The army said on Monday that a combat unit in Falagountou, in the north of the country near its border with Niger, came under attack and that 10 soldiers, two fighters of the volunteer force and a civilian were killed.

The army said the bodies of 15 assailants were found after the attack.

In a separate statement on Monday, Jean Charles dit Yenapono Some, governor of the country’s Cascades region in the south near the border with Ivory Coast, said the bodies of 15 men, all civilians, had been found following an attack on Sunday.

The governor said armed men had stopped two transport vehicles carrying eight women and 16 men. The women and one man were freed, he said.

“This January 30, the corpses of the victims, showing signs of bullet impact, were found near Linguekoro village,” the governor said in the statement.

The latest killings come as Burkina Faso — and its neighbours in Mali and Niger — battle armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIL) who have occupied territory in the country’s arid and mainly rural north, executing hundreds of villagers and displacing nearly 2 million people. The fighters have blockaded towns and villages, worsening a food crisis.

On Thursday, the AFP news agency reported that at least 10 civilians were killed in two attacks in the town of Dassa in west-central Burkina Faso, approximately 140km (90 miles) west of the capital Ouagadougou.

With more than a third of Burkina Faso now beyond the control of the government, frustration within the army regarding the handling of the security situation triggered two coups last year and has intensified political instability and strained relations with former colonial power France, which has fought against the armed groups in the Sahel region.