In the Burkinabe army, “many prefer to resign than to be sent to the slaughterhouse”

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It was already too late, this morning of November 14, when the reinforcements arrived at the base of the gendarmerie detachment of Inata, in the far north of Burkina Faso. A few hours after the attack on the camp, carried out by several hundred Ansaroul Islam fighters, affiliated with the terrorist organization Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM), there were only a few buildings left gnawed by flames, burnt motorcycles, a piece of the Burkinabé flag. And lots of bodies lying on the sand. Slaughtered, charred or riddled with bullets while trying to escape. ” A massacre “, breath, under cover of anonymity, a soldier who participated in the search operations.

For more than a week, the teams searched, hoped to find traces of the survivors in this desert area, mined and surrounded by jihadists. “A group was attacked, the youngest were shocked when they found their colleagues”, says the soldier, followed by a psychologist. Of the 120 gendarmes deployed in Inata, at least 53 were killed and 47 found alive, according to the official report. The others, still missing, are probably dead.

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In Burkina Faso, the tragedy of Inata deeply shaken the army, which had never known such carnage in six years. Foubé, Thiou, Sollé… The list of bereaved military detachments has continued to grow in recent weeks in the country. Since 2015, jihadist violence has killed more than 2,000 people, including around 500 members of the defense and security forces, according to the authorities.

“Unacceptable malfunctions”

The questions multiply in the ranks of the army. “How could we let these men starve to death?” Why hasn’t the help arrived before? “, criticize several soldiers, met discreetly in Ouagadougou. Two days before the assault, the head of the Inata detachment had appealed to his superiors for help, to no avail. “Total temporary termination of food STOP as a precautionary measure for the life of men STOP obligation to leave your position in the next few hours”, alerted the captain, in a telex.

Their provisions having been exhausted for two weeks, the gendarmes were obliged to hunt and fish in the bush for food, while awaiting relief blocked for a month in the town of Djibo, 50 kilometers away. According to our information, she refused to leave, demanding to be helicoptered to Inata because of the presence of explosive devices on the runway.

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