JNIM claims ambush in Burkina Faso

The Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), al Qaeda’s branch in West Africa and the Sahel, claimed its forces were responsible for a deadly ambush yesterday in northern Burkina Faso. The attack left at least 10 Burkinabe gendarmerie troops dead near the village of Toeni.

“A brigade of JNIM was able to set a secure ambush for a Burkinabe army convoy on Thursday, targeting it on the road between Toeni and Luli villages,” the group’s statement reads. It further claims that it killed nine troops, but this number was confirmed to be higher at 10.

As a group of Burkinabe troops were coming to reinforce the ambushed patrol, a further IED struck the secondary convoy leaving an additional three gendarmes wounded. JNIM’s statement also claims the secondary attack.

Violence in Burkina Faso, mainly concentrated in the north near the Malian borders, has been increasing exponentially since late 2016. Jihadist violence is also spreading further southeast into Burkina Faso as the security situation deteriorates, as first evidenced by researcher
Héni Nsaibia

The nascent jihadist insurgency in Burkina’s north is largely propagated by al Qaeda’s network inside Mali and its local affiliate group, Ansaroul Islam (AI). AI, a US-designated terrorist group, has been responsible for dozens of assaults, kidnappings, executions, and bombings across northern Burkina Faso since its founding inside Mali in late 2016. JNIM maintains considerable support for AI, including funding and training and logistical support.

At the same time, JNIM proper also operates within Burkina Faso’s borders. Last year, it claimed seven attacks on Burkinabe forces in the country’s north near Mali. JNIM has also been able to strike in Burkina’s capital Ouagadougou, much like its predecessors in al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Murabitoon.

The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) is also known to operate in northern Burkina Faso, as it has claimed several attacks inside the country since 2016. For his part, Héni Nsaibia also notes that the violence in southeastern Burkina is likely linked to ISGS militants in southwestern Niger though he reports that Ansaroul Islam also operates in the area.

Jihadist violence has steadily increased and expanded inside Burkina Faso since Dec. 2016. More attacks have been taking place in the north, while another nascent insurgency, which is connected to the insurgency in the north, is brewing in Burkina’s southeast. State responses to these attacks have alienated the local populations, which serves nothing but to help in jihadist recruitment and the escalation and propagation of the violence.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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