Burkina Faso’s Military Junta Requests Support In Fight Against Islamist Militants

(New York, N.Y.) — The leader of Burkina Faso’s recent military coup, Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Damiba, has called on the international community to back the country in its fight against militants linked to al-Qaeda and ISIS. Last week, the military deposed Burkina Faso’s democratically elected President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré in a move that could prove detrimental to Damiba’s efforts to win support from the country’s West African neighbors, the United Nations, the United States, and France.

Beginning in 2015, Burkina Faso began to suffer intermittent cross-border raids targeting Burkinabe police and military outposts near the country’s northern border with Mali. In January 2016, Burkina Faso witnessed its first major terrorist incident in recent memory, as al-Qaeda-affiliated militants attacked a hotel in Ouagadougou, killing 30 people and wounding more than 70 others. Since 2019, al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates in the region have increased deadly attacks on gold mines in Burkina Faso. Recently, on November 14, 2021, insurgents attacked a military police outpost near a gold mine in Inata, killing 53 people—including 49 police officers and four civilians. The terrorist attack is reportedly the deadliest suffered by the country’s security forces since Islamist violence surged in 2017. The gendarmes who were attacked had reportedly gone two weeks without food rations, even after alerting authorities that they were in need of resources.

On January 23, 2022, soldiers mutinied at several army bases across Burkina Faso, demanding the removal of military top brass and more resources to fight Islamist insurgents. The following day, soldiers announced that they had removed Kaboré from office, suspended the constitution, and dissolved the government and parliament. The political upheaval unfolded after weeks of protests against Kaboré’s handling of the fight against al-Qaeda and ISIS.

To read Counter Extremism Project (CEP)’s resource Burkina Faso, please click here.

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On September 26, 2018, an improvised explosive device planted at the foot of a bridge exploded, killing eight soldiers in the lead vehicle of a Burkinabe military convoy traveling in northern Burkina Faso. 

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