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Jihadists launch coordinated assault in Burkina Faso

A military post in northern Burkina Faso close to the borders with Mali was the target of a coordinated assault early this morning. At least 11 Burkinabe soldiers and one gendarme were killed in the attack, which was attributed to jihadists. Reuters reported Friday’s attack about 19 miles from the Malian border began at around 5 a.m. local time and was carried out “by about 40 heavily armed individuals who have not yet been identified,” the army told them in a statement.

Local media added that some of the dead were killed after being burned alive, while military equipment, including vehicles, were taken from the post during the assault.

No terrorist group has yet laid claim the attack, but several jihadist groups are known to operate in this area. This includes al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s Katibat al Murabitoon, led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, and its Tuareg front group Ansar Dine. Another group, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), a splinter cell of Murabitoon led by Abu Walid al Sahrawi, also operates there.

Murabitoon has claimed two kidnappings in northern Burkina Faso in the last two years, while several gendarmerie posts have fallen under attack this year. The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara has claimed at least two assaults in northern Burkina Faso since September. Ansar Dine’s Katibat Macina is also responsible several attacks along the Mali-Burkina Faso borders.

Caleb Weiss :Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.