At least 79 people were killed when Islamist militants attacked the Setenga commune in northern Burkina Faso on Saturday, government reports said.
The attack comes after months of escalating violence in both Mali and Burkina Faso, both countries currently under military rule. ACLED, the Armed Conflict Location and Incident Data Project, now positions Burkina Faso as the epicenter of the Sahel conflict.
Although there has been a sharp increase in violence in Burkina Faso, Mali also saw an increase in violence in 2022 – particularly in the Maneka and Gao regions, where already more civilians were killed by Islamist groups in 2022 than in any previous year. have been killed.
Abdul Aziz Azibou, a security adviser working in Burkina Faso, said via Ouagadougou’s messaging app that these Islamist groups operate across borders, and put not only the Sahel, but coastal West African countries at risk. Benin and Togo faced attacks by Islamic extremists in April and May.
He says, if we have to fight against people who erase borders, then we also have to work in an integrated manner. If the gardener takes care of himself, and Burkina Faso tries to go its own way, unless action is coordinated, the problem will only get worse.
Dan Ezenga, a research fellow at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, says the Setenga attack is somehow characteristic of the violence that has plagued the region in recent years, but its The scale civilian deaths stick out.
“I think we are not only seeing a situation where the security situation in both countries is likely to continue to deteriorate, and possibly worsen at a much faster rate, we can expect these junta to claim Will continue because that decline requires them to stay in power.”
Mali’s military government had previously cited the country’s insecurity as a reason why elections could not be held in February this year as originally promised. The military has launched a publicized military campaign against Islamists, whose claims often conflict with local reports of killing of military civilians rather than Islamic extremists.
After the announcement of new plans to hold elections in 2026, Mali was approved by the regional block ECOWAS due to delays in elections in January. ECOWAS issued a statement today condemning the Setenga attack, and will hold a meeting on the situations in Burkina Faso and Mali. on july 3