Attacks see state of emergency declared in Burkina Faso

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Burkina Faso declared a state of emergency in several northern provinces, a government spokesman said, as Islamist groups intensify attacks in areas bordering Mali.

Security has deteriorated in the West African country as jihadists seek to increase their influence across poorly policed scrublands of the Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert.

Burkinabe authorities are facing security problems from “the diffuse, cross-border nature of the terrorist threat”, government spokesman Remy Fulgance Dandjinou said following a special Cabinet meeting.

Last week, ten gendarmes were killed in an attack near the Malian border claimed by Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), an umbrella group for al Qaeda-linked militants in the Sahara.

JNIM claimed responsibility for other attacks last year, including one in Ouagadougou in March that killed eight security agents and wounded dozens.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for a raid on a restaurant and hotel in Ouagadougou in January 2016 in which 30 people were killed. AQIM merged with other local jihadist groups last year to form JNIM.

Thousands of people fled their homes as a result of the attacks and reprisals by Burkinabe security forces, Human Rights Watch reported in May.