At least 32 people, including 28 military police officers and four civilians, were killed in an attack on a gendarmerie post in northern Burkina Faso, the government said on Monday, raising its earlier death toll of 20.
The government’s statement said the toll was provisional as of Monday afternoon. The attack is the deadliest suffered by Burkina Faso troops since an insurgency by Islamist militants took off in 2017.
President Roch Kabore decreed three days of national mourning for the victims of the attack, which took place on Sunday morning near a gold mine in Inata and came two days after another raid in the area killed seven police.
The government said it was carried out by unidentified armed men. Burkinabe forces and civilians are regularly targeted by militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State, particularly near the borders with Mali and Niger.
The militants’ insurgency across West Africa’s Sahel region has expanded in recent years, claiming thousands of lives, forcing millions from their homes and wearing down national forces.
The gendarmerie post in Inata had run out of food and been forced to slaughter animals in the vicinity for the past two weeks, according to a memo sent by the post’s commander to his superiors last week and seen by Reuters.
Another military police unit in the Kelbo rural district in northern Burkina Faso was also attacked on Sunday but the assailants were successfully repelled by soldiers and civilian auxiliary forces, the government said in its statement.