Eighty people, including 65 civilians and 15 gendarmes, were killed in Wednesday’s jihadist attack on a military convoy escorting civilians in northern Burkina Faso, according to a new official toll released Thursday night.
A government source had revised upwards the initially announced death toll of 14 gendarmes after the death of a 15th wounded gendarme, which the gendarmerie confirmed on Thursday evening.
The 65 civilians killed were 52 men, seven women and six auxiliaries of the Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland (VDP). Sixty-four were buried Thursday in Arbinda, in the Sahel region (north) where the attack took place.
The government renews its condolences to the bereaved families and congratulates the Defense and Security Forces and the VDP for their action, which made it possible to neutralize more than 58 terrorists according to a final count,” the statement said.
The gendarmes are very affected by the loss of our 15 brothers in arms (…) but proud of the fight they have delivered and which has enabled to rout more than 400 terrorists, neutralize more than 80 of them and recover a large stock of equipment, weapons and motorcycles, said the communication service of the National Gendarmerie.
Three-day national mourning
The attack occurred in the tri-border area between Burkina, Niger and Mali, which is regularly hit by deadly actions of jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
The gendarmes and VDP auxiliaries were escorting civilians who were victims of previous jihadist attacks back to their home communities in the same Sahel region.
Burkina Faso began a three-day national mourning period on Thursday, with the flag flying at half-mast in front of parliament, the presidency and government buildings.
Several television and radio stations changed their programming, mostly broadcasting songs in tribute and support of the defense and security forces.
Since the beginning of August, 94 civilians, soldiers, and army auxiliaries have died in attacks attributed to jihadist groups in the north and northeast of Burkina.