Terrorist Attack Leaves At Least 25 Dead In Burkina Faso

Another terrorist attack occurred in the northern province of Seno in Burkina Faso, resulting in 22 civilian and three police deaths. Lieutenant Colonel Rodolphe Sorgho, the governor of the Sahel Region, stated in a statement from India News that “armed terrorist groups carried out a violent attack on Saturday afternoon in the commune of Bani in the province of Seno.” The attacks are yet another demonstration of the violence inflicted by groups linked to Al Qaeda and I.S.I.S., which has led to two coups in the past year as the government tries to protect its citizens.

With growing insecurity, Burkina Faso is no stranger to military interventions by the government. In 48 out of the 61 years since its independence, a military regime has held power in the state. Efforts to establish democracy have been hampered by continued corruption among senior officers and eventual reclamation by new military coups. With former President Kaboré’s uninformed attempts to restructure the army came further defense deterioration. The prevailing corruption resulted in supplies bound for the anti-jihadist front lines being stolen. The most recent coup in January 2022, led by Lieutenant Colonel Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba and backed by the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration (M.P.S.R.), was in response to the escalating attacks by jihadist groups, which has caused insecurity throughout the country.

Captain Ibrahim Traore came to power at the end of the coup in September 2022. He claimed that Damiba was not effective in addressing jihadist attacks and was too close to France, leading to anti-French violence in the country. Traore’s fragile regime has drawn concern and criticism from the international community. Supporters of Traore have called for him to seek support from Russia, as neighboring Mali did by bringing in mercenaries from the Wagner Group. Traore’s overthrow of a democratically elected president has further disrupted Burkina Faso’s return to constitutional order. With the mobilization of civilian fighters through volunteer programs and an “increasing trend of extrajudicial killings by defense and security forces,” escalations in conflict are expected, says Heni Nsaibia, a researcher at A.C.L.E.D., in a report by A.P. News. Civilian fighters are turning against other civilians who are accused of collaborating with jihadist groups, resulting in violent retaliation.

A government preoccupied with squabbling military groups will not be able to effectively defend its citizens from jihadist attacks. Unity among the armed forces and accountability will be crucial in re-establishing stability in the country. If security does not improve, the new regime could lose popular support and be at risk of another coup. The Economic Community of West African States (E.C.O.W.A.S.) must empower new authorities and align its actions if it wants to maintain its influence over the region. The people and regime of Burkina Faso are highly reactive and need to feel heard and supported by outside powers. Along with ensuring accountability for human rights, international partners must support dialogue between E.C.O.W.A.S. and the current Burkina Faso regime to help secure the volatile climate and bring back security to its citizens.