(PresidentialWire.com)- Last Wednesday suspected Islamist militants launched an ambush attack on a convoy near the town of Arbinda in Burkina Faso killing at least 47 people in what is the latest incident of violence that has gripped Africa’s Sahel region for several years.
At least thirty were civilians and seventeen soldiers and pro-government volunteer fighters were among the dead.
In response to the attack Burkina Faso troops launched a counterattack, killing anywhere between sixteen and 58 militants.
As yet no group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s ambush attack. However, it followed quickly on the heels of several other targeted attacks on government security forces carried out by groups linked to both al Qaeda and Islamic State. One recent previous attack by these terror groups left thirty people dead.
Two weeks ago, in another ambush attack in the western portion of Burkina Faso, suspected Islamist militants killed twelve soldiers.
In July, outraged by the escalation in terrorist attacks, protesting citizens demanded the government take more direct action to curb the violence which the poorly-equipped state forces have been struggling for years to contain.
In response to the protests, Burkina Faso President Kabore fired his ministers of defense and security and took over the defense role himself.
Islamic militants have been terrorizing countries throughout the Sahel region of Africa – including Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon – prompting leaders to appeal to the international community to provide further assistance in fighting extremists.
Both French and UN forces have been providing some assistance in the region. And earlier this year, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhair called on the United States to move its US Africa Command headquarters from Germany to the African continent in order to provide a more direct response.
At the time, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that the headquarters would not be moved, pointing out that when it was founded in 2007, there were concerns within the African continent about a heavy US military presence there.
Additionally, US officials have been deterred from making such a massive move because the upfront costs to do so would be immense.