Burkina Faso: Army kills 20 terrorists near border

By Alaattin Dogru

DAKAR, Senegal (AA) – Security forces in Burkina Faso killed 20 terrorists in a clash near the border with Niger, the army said Wednesday.

In a statement, the General Staff of the Armed Forces said an army patrol in Yagha province was ambushed by armed attackers.

It said the troops killed 20 terrorists but eight soldiers lost their lives during the fighting.

According to UN figures, more than 850 people have been killed and 840,000 have been displaced since 2015 in terrorist attacks in the country.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor for the town of Fada N'Gourma said 12 terrorist suspects were found dead in their police cells.

In a statement, the prosecutor said 25 people had been detained Monday, but 12 of them had died during the night.

An investigation has been launched into the incident.

Burkina Faso urged to probe killing of 31 detainees

ANKARA (AA) – Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday called on Burkina Faso to investigate the killing of 31 unarmed civilians, who were arrested by security forces during a counterterrorism operation in the country’s north.

The killings took place on April 9, in Djibo, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of the capital Ouagadougou, the HRW said in a report based on interviews with 17 witnesses.

“This was not a battle,” a trader told the watchdog.

“There was no gunfire before the arrests. If there had been tension, or an attack … we’d not have gone to the well, clinic, or to our fields,” the reported quoted an elder as saying.

“How can unarmed people be thrown into a vehicle and murdered by our own army without even being interrogated or tried?,” another man, who had lost his brother in the incident was quoted as saying.

“Local residents said scores of security force personnel were involved in the April 9 operation,” the report said.

“The victims were arrested from several neighborhoods, or “sectors,” while they were watering their animals, walking, or sitting in front of their homes. They were taken away in a convoy of about 10 military vehicles including pickup trucks, an armored car, and motorcycles,” it added, citing witnesses.

Residents, the report said, believe that they had been targeted due to the recent presence of some armed groups around Djibo.

“It’s like we’re punished for their mere presence,” an eyewitness told the rights watchdog.

“The government should immediately and impartially investigate the killings and hold to account all those responsible, regardless of rank,” the report added.

Food insecurity in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger affects 5M

By Felix Tih

ANKARA (AA) – Humanitarian crisis in the Central Sahel region of Africa is going out of control, with more than 5 million people facing severe food insecurity across the region, according to the UN's World Food Program (WFP).

The WFP said the rise comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading across countries with the weakest health systems around the world.

Burkina Faso has the highest number of coronavirus cases in West Africa, with 288 confirmed cases, and 16 deaths.

“This is a crisis layered on top of a crisis, and the situation risks getting out of hand,” Chris Nikoi, the WFP’s regional director for West Africa, said in a statement on Thursday.

“People are on the brink — we must step up now to save lives — we are the only hope for millions.

“Our message to the world is clear: Look away now and the consequences will be no less than catastrophic,” added Nikoi.

The Sahel has long been one of the most vulnerable regions in Africa.

The surge in armed violence across Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger is having a devastating impact on children’s survival, education, protection and development.

The conflict has forced more than 1 million people to flee their homes, according to UNICEF.

US envoy to Burkina Faso tests positive for COVID-19

By James Tasamba

KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) – The U.S. ambassador to Burkina Faso said Sunday he had tested positive for COVID-19.

On Twitter, Andrew Young said the U.S. Embassy in Burkina Faso had taken measures to quarantine contacted embassy staff.

“I received a positive test for COVID-19,” Andrew Young said.

So far, Burkina Faso has reported 75 cases and five deaths from coronavirus since March 9.

At least 11 new cases and two new deaths from virus were reported on Sunday, according to a statement by Martial Ouedraogo, National coordinator of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

It said five patients have been cured.

Four ministers of Burkina Faso, including the education minister, territorial administration minister, foreign minister and mine minister, were reported to have tested positive for COVID-19 on March 20.

Some 604 people have been traced and isolated.

The government on Friday declared a countrywide curfew effective as of midnight March 21 from 7 p.m .local time (1900GMT) to 5 a.m., and closure of its land borders.