At least 35 civilians killed and 37 injured after bomb blast in Burkina Faso

Junta leader assures he will respect two-year transition period

At least 35 civilians have been killed and 37 injured after an IED exploded while they were traveling in a convoy in Burkina Faso’s northern Sahel region, local authorities said.

“One of the vehicles carrying civilians in that convoy has exploded on contact with an improvised explosive device. The provisional balance sheet shows 35 dead and 37 wounded, all civilians”, detailed the governor of the Sahel region, Rodolphe Sorgho, in declarations collected by the Information Agency of Burkina Faso (AIB).

The dead and wounded were traveling in a supply convoy escorted by the army that left Djibo, in the north of the country, for Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. This type of convoy supplies northern towns blocked by jihadist groups, which in recent months have prevented the supply of several towns, such as Djibo, Titao or Pama.

In a speech given to the nation on Sunday, the head of state, Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, reaffirmed his determination to fight against these groups. Damiba himself stressed on Monday that he will respect his commitment to hand over power to civilian authorities after a two-year transition period opened following the January coup d’état, which overthrew the then president, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.

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Damiba, who met with Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, stressed that Ouagadougou will respect the commitments adopted with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) concerning the duration of the transition period. “I guarantee that the commitments made by Burkina Faso to the international community will be respected,” he said.

“The transition will act in the first instance to achieve a little more stability inside the country and will organize elections for the return to a normal constitutional order,” he explained, according to a statement published by the Directorate of Communication of the Presidency of Burkina Faso through its official account on the social network Facebook.

For his part, Ouattara conveyed to Damiba his government’s “full support” for the “efforts” of the military junta in the face of the threat of terrorism. “We consider that this situation of terrorist attacks affects the entire subregion and we must do everything possible to support you and help you (…) with a cooperation at the level of the defense and security forces,” he maintained.

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The Ivorian president further showed his support for “initiatives in terms of dialogue between populations and reconciliation initiatives” arguing that “it is an important lever to achieve trust between the different populations of the same country.”

Burkina Faso has generally been experiencing a significant increase in insecurity since 2015, which has led to a wave of internally displaced persons and refugees to other countries in the region. The attacks, the work of both Al Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates in the region, have also contributed to an increase in inter-communal violence and has led to a flourishing of self-defense groups, to which the Burkinabe government has added ‘volunteers’ to assist in the fight against terrorism.

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