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Gunmen kill 11 police officers in Burkina Faso; 4 missing

June 22, 2021 GMT

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Gunmen ambushed a group of police officers in Burkina Faso, killing at least 11 of them in the deadliest attack of its kind yet in this West African country where extremist violence is escalating.

At least four other officers were missing after Monday’s attack near the town of Barsalogho in the volatile country’s center-north region, Burkina Faso’s security ministry confirmed in a press release Tuesday.

“The violence is getting closer to Barsalogho. We are really concerned,” said Abdoulaye Pafadnam, the town’s mayor.

Only seven police officers are known to have survived the ambush, authorities from the security ministry said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, though suspicion immediately fell on Islamic extremists who have unleashed unprecedented violence recently.

Earlier this month, jihadists carried out the deadliest attack on civilians in Burkina Faso since the insurgency here began, killing at least 132 people in Solhan village in the country’s Sahel region.

“This clearly shows that the militant threat is not abating despite the ongoing major military operations,” said Heni Nsaibia, senior researcher at the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

Violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State has devastated Burkina Faso, killing thousands and displacing more than 1 million people since 2016. Fighting has further intensified in recent months, and more than 50 people were killed in one week alone in April including two Spanish journalists and an Irish conservationist.