62 dead in Burkina jihadist attacks and clashes this week: minister

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OUAGADOUGOU, April 4, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Sixty-two people were killed this week in jihadist attacks and subsequent intercommunal clashes in north Burkina Faso, a minister said Wednesday.

“There were 62 deaths,” Simeon Sawadogo, minister for territorial administration, said of the violence between Sunday and Tuesday in Arbina commune, near the Mali border.

“We have 32 dead because of the terrorists. We have 30 who died because of community conflicts, reprisals between (the communities of) Kouroumba, Peuls, Mossis etc.”

The jihadists “chased people and killed people”, Sawadogo said in his televised statement, adding that nine were kidnapped.

Armed individuals on Sunday night stormed the village of Hamkan, seven kilometres (four miles) from Arbinda, where they killed the village’s religious leader, his eldest son and his nephew, the minister said.

“Following the killing of Sheikh Werem, there were clashes between communities in Arbinda, which resulted in retaliation on both sides,” according to Sawadogo, describing a “deplorable situation”.

The minister said people from surrounding villages made their way to Arbinda after the violence.

“The security situation is such that no one is safe,” he said, insisting that extra safety measures had been put in place in the area.

Burkina Faso, a former French colony, has seen a surge in attacks blamed on Islamist groups — mainly the Ansaroul Islam group and the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) — in the last four years.

This week’s violence follows a massacre of 160 people during an attack on a Fulani village in neighbouring Mali on March 23.

“The intention of the terrorists is actually to create conflict between the different communities,” said Sawadogo, calling on people “not to fall into the trap by linking a community as the cause of our misfortune”.

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