An ambush on a convoy transporting employees of a Canadian mining company in Burkina Faso killed 37 people on Wednesday, the deadliest attack in nearly five years of jihadist violence in the West African country.
The impoverished and politically fragile Sahel country has been struggling to quell a rising jihadist revolt that has claimed hundreds of lives since early 2015.
On Wednesday morning “unidentified armed individuals” ambushed five buses carrying local employees, contractors and suppliers of the Samafo mining company, said Saidou Sanou, the governor of the country’s Est Region.
As well as the 37 civilians killed, 60 were wounded, he said.
Mine owner Semafo Inc. said the five buses escorted by the military were approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Boungou gold mine in the Tapoa province when they were ambushed.
A security source said “a military vehicle that was escorting the convoy hit an explosive device”.
“Two buses carrying workers were then fired upon,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Burkina Faso’s government said the gunmen had conducted a “complex attack”, adding that defence and security forces had launched a relief operation and were searching the area.
It was the third deadly attack on Canadian firm Semafo, which operates two mines in Burkina Faso, in 15 months.
“We are actively working with all levels of authorities to ensure the ongoing safety and security of our employees, contractors and suppliers,” Semafo said in a statement, offering condolences to the families of the victims.
The mine itself, it added, remains secure and its operations had not been affected.
Two separate attacks on convoys carrying Boungou mine employees in August and December last year killed 11 people.
The company blamed “armed bandits” for last year’s attacks, and subsequently reinforced its armed escorts.
The Burkina Faso government this year asked mining companies to make their own arrangements to transport their employees, according to sources close to the miners.
Burkina Faso’s northern provinces have been battling a nearly five-year wave of jihadist violence that came from neighbouring Mali.
The attacks — typically hit-and-run raids on villages, road mines and suicide bombings — have claimed nearly 700 lives across the country since early 2015, according to an AFP toll.
Almost 500,000 people have also been forced to flee their homes.
The attacks have been claimed by a range of jihadist groups, including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
The country’s badly equipped, poorly trained and underfunded security forces have been unable to stem the violence, which has intensified throughout 2019 to become almost daily.
The Sahel region, including Burkina Faso’s neighbours Mali and Niger, has been afflicted by the violence despite the presence of the regional G5 Sahel force as well as French and US troops.
Burkina Faso’s previous deadliest attack was in January 2016, when jihadists raided the Splendid Hotel and a cafe in the capital Ouagadougou, killing 30 people, around half of them foreign nationals.
In August this year, the army suffered its worst attack with 24 soldiers killed in an assault on a base in Koutougou, near the Mali border.
On Monday, an attack on a base in northern Burkina Faso killed at least five gendarmes and five civilians.
Two Policemen Shot Dead in Bayelsa
Two policemen were on Tuesday shot dead along the Otuogidi community in Ogbia local government area of Bayelsa state.
The suspects carted away the riffles of their victims, creating apprehension in the state few days to the Saturday governorship election.
The deceased officers were attacked at a checkpoint close to the Bayelsa State College of Health Technology in Ogbia.
While one of them reportedly died on the spot, the other died at a hospital he was taken to for medical attention.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Adamu, inspector-general of police, has deployed 32,000 policemen for the election.
The policemen are to be supervised by 15 commissioners of police, three assistant inspectors-general (AIG) of police and Anthony Ogbizi, a deputy inspector-general of police (DIG).
‘IGP Arrested My Father Because I Divorced his Friend’ Woman Cries Out
Nasiba, daughter of Sani Dauda, a former chairman of Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited, says Mohammed Adamu, the inspector-general of police (IGP), is harassing her family.
Nasiba, who spoke with TheCable on Tuesday, said her family was being targetted over her refusal to remain in a legally dissolved marriage with Abubakar Musa, her ex-husband whom she claims is a childhood friend of the IGP.
She said she kept things to herself about her ex-husband until Monday when policemen came to arrest her father and her elder brother.
TheCable has contacted police headquarters for a response to the allegation.
According to her, the policemen, who reportedly acted on the directive of the IGP, could not produce any warrant to effect the arrest.
“They came over to the house with no warrant but a petition they claim was from my ex-husband,” she said.
“In the petition, he accused my dad of taking me away from him and marrying me off to someone else illegally. But this is not true. The marriage was dissolved at the court, and I got the divorce certificate.
“My ex-husband has chosen to humiliate me and my family. The IG sent five police vans to pick up my father, his lawyer and the judge that treated the case while he was praying in the mosque. They wanted to take me and my husband, but we weren’t around.
“Prior to that, the commissioner of police, Ali Aji Janga ,called my father and told him the IG has asked him to arrest him based on a petition sent by my ex-husband that my father has married me off to another man while he’s still married to me. But the CP told my father that he has advised the IG that this not a criminal offence and should not be treated as such. The IG insisted and told him to act on his instructions. My father is still at the police station with no arrest warrant and no explanation.”
Nasiba said she had left the marriage due to physical and emotional abuse, as her ex-husband assaulted her in ways no one could imagine.
“I don’t know why the IG is making this a criminal offence. I know my ex-husband is a childhood friend of the IG and he was also instrumental in his appointment as IG, but if the IG wants him married, he should marry off his own daughters to him,” she said.
She added that her father and others are still being detained at the special anti robbery squad (SARS) office at the Kaduna state police command.
Frank Mba, force public relations officer, promised to investigate the matter and get back to TheCable when he was contacted.
Yakubu Sabo, spokesman of the Kaduna police command, said he was attending a training outside the state when TheCable contacted him for comments.
1,392 People Rescued From Illegal Detention Centres in 2 Months
In the past two months across the country, about 1,392 people have so far been rescued in various detention centres, as there are fears that more centres are likely to be discovered.
There had been apprehensions across the country following the discovery, from September 26, of various centres where people were found either chained, being tortured or living in pitiable conditions.
In the first rescue carried out in Rigasa area in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State in September, 300 people were found in an Islamic centre, with some of them not only being starved, but also sexually abused and chained.
On October 14, in Daura, Katsina State, 67 men were rescued by police from another Islamic centre and it was tales of woes from many of them. Two days later, on October 16, police freed about 500 men and boys chained to walls in another Islamic school in the state.
Also, on October 19, 147 persons comprising 22 females and 125 males were equally rescued at Malam Niga rehabilitation centre in the same Rigasa. Three days later, 11 inmates were rescued at a religious centre in Zaria, Kaduna State.
On October 24, 108 malnourished and sick people were rescued from an Islamic reform centre in Gaa’Odota, in Ilorin West Local Government Area of Kwara State and some of the inhabitants of the centre were in chains.
Similarly, on November 4, personnel of the Oyo State Police Command raided an illegal detention centre at a mosque in the Ojoo area of Ibadan and rescued 259 persons being held hostage there.
The victims were made up of 191 males, 34 females, 11 children, and 23 sick persons. It was gathered that the victims had been in chains for between two and 10 years.
Meanwhile, following the discovery of illegal rehabilitation centres in Kaduna and Zaria, Kaduna State government has commenced the construction of no fewer than five rehabilitation centres across the state.
The state Commissioner for Human Services and Social Development, Mrs Hafsat Baba, disclosed this when she fielded questions from newsmen.
The commissioner, while giving an update on the project, said all the centres were still under lock and key.
She said her ministry had reunited the children with their families after undergoing medical test.
“I think only one or two staff of the one of the centres are currently being prosecuted in court, while Malam Niga has been released after making a statement in the police command,” she said.
According to her, the raid on the centres was not a witch hunt, as there had been a series of complaints from citizens about the centres.
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