At least 15 civilians have been killed in northern Burkina Faso during an attack attributed to jihadists, the government said Saturday.
“The provisional toll mentions 15 dead, wounded and people missing as well as significant material damage,” said communications minister Remis Fulgance Dandjinou after the Friday assault on shopkeepers in Loroum province.
The minister said the attack was carried out by “armed terrorist groups”, shorthand for jihadists.
“Military reinforcements were deployed and searches are underway,” he added.
The victims were “mainly shopkeepers” who came from Titao, around 160 kilometers (100 miles) to the north of Ouagadougou, when their vehicles were intercepted by “armed individuals”, a Titao resident said.
He added the attack occurred around 5 pm.
“The lorries were escorted by ‘koglweogo’ (local self-defence members) who were among the casualties,” the resident said on condition of anonymity.
He said “at least four women” were among the dead and that two lorries were burned.
In January, nine shopkeepers were killed and a vehicle torched along the same road.
Burkina Faso’s armed forces are leading counter-terror operations with increasing frequency.
The impoverished Sahel country is part of a regional effort to battle an Islamist insurgency, along with Mali, Niger, Mauritania, and Chad.
Their militaries, under-equipped and poorly trained, are struggling despite help from France, which has 5,000 troops in the region.
Unrest in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger killed around 4,000 people last year, according to UN figures.