Burkina Faso is overhauling its army command in the face of a wave of jihadist violence, according to presidential decrees seen by AFP on Friday, February 8.
Eight decrees signed by President Roch Marc Christian Kabore include measures to name a new army chief of staff and new heads of the military’s three regional commands.
Jihadists have killed hundreds of civilians and inflicted crippling economic damage on Burkina Faso and neighboring states in the Sahel desert region.
In the latest incident, five security personnel were killed Tuesday in what the army called a “terrorist” attack in the north.
The west African country had already named new defense and security ministers last month, and Kabore promoted Moise Miningou to Brigadier General to replace the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Major General Oumarou Sadou.
Wave of attacks in Burkina Faso
One of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso lies in the heart of the sprawling, impoverished Sahel, on the southern rim of the Sahara.
The country been battling an escalating wave of attacks over the last three years, beginning in the North region near the border with Mali. Attacks have spread to the East region, near the border with Togo, Benin and Niger, and to a lesser and to a lesser extent, the west of the country.
On Monday, the armed forces conducted raids in three northern provinces after 14 civilians were killed in attack in Kain in Yatenta province near the Mali border. It said 146 “terrorists” were “neutralized” in the operations in near Kain, and in Loroum and Kossi provinces.
The GFSN is a military force engaged in counter-insurgency operations in Burkina Faso’s restive north, and has been dealing with a significant uptick in attacks by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM).
Most attacks are attributed to JNIM, which has sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or the jihadist group Ansar ul Islam, which emerged near the Mali border in December 2016.
Tuesday’s attack came on the the same day as a G5 Sahel summit in the capital Ouagadougou, where leaders again called for assistance to the G5 Sahel Joint Force under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter.
With reporting from AFP