At least 35 civilians, almost all of them women, were killed by Jihadists in Burkina Faso when they simultaneously attacked a town in the north and its military base in one of the deadliest assaults in nearly five years of jihadist violence.
Seven soldiers and 80 jihadists also died in the double attack Tuesday in Arbinda in Soum province which lasted “several hours” and was of a “rare intensity”, the army said.
Burkina Faso, bordering Mali and Niger, has seen regular jihadist attacks which have left hundreds dead since the start of 2015 when militant violence began to spread across the Sahel region.
“A large group of terrorists simultaneously attacked the military base and the civilian population in Arbinda,” the army chief of staff said in a statement.
“This barbaric attack resulted in the deaths of 35 civilian victims, most of them women,” President Roch Marc Christian Kabore added on Twitter, praising the “bravery and commitment” of the defence and security forces.
Communications minister and government spokesman Remis Dandjinou later said 31 of the civilian victims were women, adding around 20 soldiers and six civilians were wounded.
The president has declared 48 hours of national mourning.
The morning raid was carried out by dozens of jihadists on motorbikes and lasted several hours before armed forces backed by the air force drove the militants back, the army said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but jihadist violence in Burkina Faso has been blamed on militants linked to both Al Qaeda and Islamic State groups.