OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINA FASO —
Burkina Faso’s junta leader on Tuesday lashed out at the “cowardice” of the country’s jihadist rebels after local and security sources reported at least 10 civilian deaths in two attacks.
Residents of Nouna, the local capital of Kossi province in the west, contacted by telephone, said shells hit the town late Monday.
“The toll is six dead and four wounded,” one resident said.
Nouna has in recent months become a refuge for thousands of people who have fled repeated jihadist assaults on their homes.
A security source confirmed the attack on Nouna to AFP, saying “fragments of rockets were found in the area.”
The same evening some 400 kilometers (250 miles) to the south, Tondoura, near the border with Ivory Coast, also came under attack, a local official told AFP asking not to be named.
“Terrorists attacked the village,” he said. “Some villagers, armed with rifles, tried to intervene but were quickly overrun. “We have at least four dead, some wounded, and various physical damage.”
Locals hide from suspected jihadists
Several locals said that, for more than a month, people have been forced to seek shelter from suspected jihadists in the nearby towns of Niangoloko and Banfora.
Junta leader Captain Ibrahim Traore, who seized power in a coup in September last year, denounced the jihadists for their “cowardice” and admitted “increasingly frequent attacks against civilians.”
Speaking during a meeting with representatives of women’s associations from across the West African country, Traore also lashed out at the “imperialists” he said, “imposed this war.”
An economic structural adjustment program by the International Monetary Fund, implemented in the 1990s, was “a way of weakening our armies. They succeeded,” he said.
Junta faces insurgency
Burkina Faso’s ruling military junta faces a jihadist insurgency that swept in from neighboring Mali in 2015.
Anger within the military at failures to roll back the insurgency sparked two coups last year.
More than 10,000 civilians, troops, and police have died in the violence, according to an NGO count, while at least 2 million people have been displaced.