Four French soldiers from the “Barkhane” force were injured when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded as their vehicle passed by in northern Burkina Faso, Agence France-Presse told AFP. ), Tuesday evening, January 18, the French general staff.
“The all-terrain vehicle exploded on an IED at the exit of Ouahigouya airport”, it was indicated to the staff, specifying that it was about a “unit of “Barkhane” on a reconnaissance mission”.
One of the soldiers was seriously injured. All “were immediately evacuated to Gao”, in Mali. “Those who deserve it will be evacuated to France”, continued the same source, without further details on their state of health.
The area is rather frequented by jihadists from the GSIM (or JNIM, a jihadist nebula affiliated with Al-Qaeda). Corn “It’s a transit zone, we don’t have certainties” on the origin of the machine, specified the same source. The Sahel is also the prey of the jihadists of the EIGS, linked to the Islamic State group.
Reorganization of the French presence in Mali
The anti-jihadist force “Barkhane”, present since 2014 in Mali and whose mission is extended to the Sahel, is currently at the heart of major bilateral political issues. Mali is accused by the Europeans of using the services of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, while France has decided to reorganize the French military presence in the country.
Last week, the junta in power in Bamako since the August 2020 putsch closed its borders to the States of the Organization of West African States (ECOWAS), after the latter took the same sanction. ECOWAS asks the putschists to organize elections without delay, and not in five years, as they claim to want to do.
Like its neighbors in Mali and Niger, Burkina Faso has also been caught up in a spiral of violence since 2015 attributed to armed jihadist groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and IS. The army is struggling to contain the violence, which has killed more than 2,000 people in six years and forced more than 1.5 million people to flee their homes.
At least a dozen civilians were killed on Saturday in an attack in northern Burkina Faso, security and local sources told AFP on Sunday.