Suspected jihadists killed at least three gendarmes in eastern Burkina Faso on Sunday and several more officers are missing, security sources and local officials said.
“An escort team of the gendarmerie has been the target of an ambush during which three of their number lost their lives,” a security source told AFP.
The attack place shortly after 13:00 at Sakoani, a small town on the Matiakoali-Kantchari road in Est province, as they were escorting a team from the Boungou mining group.
“The attackers put explosive devices on the road, before opening fire on the convoy,” said another security source, who confirmed the deaths of “three members of the security and defence forces”.
Other members of the team accompanying the convoy were still missing, and the search was on to find them and to track down the attackers, the source added.
One local source said a civilian – probably a volunteer member of one of the local militias helping the security forces against the jihadists – had also been killed.
Poverty-stricken Burkina Faso, along with Niger and Mali make up the “three borders” region, a huge territory straddling their territories long plagued by land feuds, trafficking, desertification, jihadist violence — and a fragile state presence.
Jihadist groups in Burkina Faso have often attacked employees of the gold mining companies, one attack in November 2019 having claimed at least 38 lives.
The violence in the region has killed more than 1 500 people and forced more than 1.3 million people to flee their homes.
Across the border in Mali, the army reported Sunday that jihadists had killed five of their soldiers in an ambush around midday.