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After the Seytenga attack, Burkina Faso prepares its military counter-attack

Burkina Faso

Less than two weeks after the terrorist attack in Seytenga, in the north of Burkina Faso, the authorities are mobilized to clean up the region. Explanations.

On June 12, Burkina Faso suffered a terrorist offensive which killed 86 civilians in Seytenga, in the north-east of the country. Tens of thousands of displaced people have joined Dori, a little further south. The attack was unexpected, since it was believed that the military authorities of Burkina Faso had taken the lead in the fight against terrorist groups. We remember in particular the bombardment, on May 26, which had got the better of a large part of the command of the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

Last Tuesday, the head of the Burkinabè junta, Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, received its two predecessors Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo and Roch Marc Christian Kaboré. Objective: to confirm "the Head of State's desire for reconciliation for a united, determined and united Burkina in the fight against the terrorist Hydra".

A reconciliation between the president of the transition and former presidents which would be more than symbolic at a time when the army and the government of Burkina Faso launched an evacuation operation on Friday covering the border area with Mali on one side and Benin on the other. A region inhabited by 1,4 million Burkinabés. The armed forces have given civilians two weeks to evacuate the region and join the newly established camps.

"Distinguishing friends from foes"

In less than two weeks, from July 8, therefore, the army will declare the evacuated region - 13 square kilometers in total - as a military zone. According to the spokesman of the army and commander of the national operations of Burkina Faso, Yves Didier Bamouni, "it is important to distinguish friends from enemies".

“The promise made by the Head of State to the people of Seytenga will be kept,” promised Bamouni. Indeed, after the Seytenga attack, Paul-Henri Damiba had promised to dismantle terrorist groups in these "areas of military interest" where "all human presence" will be prohibited.

According to the ECOWAS mediator for Burkina Faso, the ex-president of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou, the authorities of Burkina Faso “only control 60% of the country”. Ouagadougou would be confronted, he explains, with “a security, humanitarian, political and socio-economic crisis”.

Does Burkina Faso seek support from neighboring countries?

The establishment of military zones had different results in Africa. Some countries, such as Mauritania, Egypt and Algeria, have recorded successes following similar military operations. While others, like the DRC, Nigeria and Somalia, have subsequently failed to regain control of areas threatened by terrorists. And therefore have to deal with an unmanageable mass of refugees.

For Burkina Faso, the challenge is all the greater because the north and south-east region acts as a transition territory for the fighters of terrorist groups and their various trafficking. Moreover, Ouagadougou is in dire need of military allies.

However, Burkina Faso has not recalled its troops engaged in Mali and Nigeria with UN peacekeepers. The reason ? Paul-Henri Damiba seems to be seeking support from neighboring countries. Benin and Togo, in particular, have invested a lot of resources in protecting the border regions with Burkina Faso, without much success. A joint operation would explain, in particular, the inclusion of former presidents in the discussion of security problems.

The only problem: ECOWAS could try to make Burkina's military junta bend if such aid is granted.

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