At least 49 gendarmes and four civilians were killed in Sunday’s attack by suspected jihadists on a gendarmerie detachment in Inata, northern Burkina Faso, according to a new toll released by the government spokesman Wednesday.
“We can establish the following toll: 49 gendarmes dead, 4 civilians (killed). Fortunately, we have found 46 gendarmes” who were missing, said Ousséni Tamboura after a cabinet meeting.
An earlier report on Monday said 28 gendarmes and four civilians had been killed.
The death toll could rise further, however, as the gendarmerie detachment in Inata, a town in the Sahel region close to the border with Mali, comprises about 150 men, according to local sources.
The detachment was attacked on Sunday by “a large number of armed individuals” travelling “on several pick-ups and motorcycles,” according to a security source who described “long exchanges of fire” between the attackers and the gendarmes.
This is one of the deadliest attacks against the defense and security forces since Burkina Faso has been confronted with jihadist actions, which began in this country six years ago.
At the end of the council of ministers, the president of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, deplored “dysfunctions at a significant level” within the army, mentioning in particular problems with food supplies.
“This is unacceptable and that is why I understand very well the different reactions of anger that are expressed,” he added.
The government spokesman said earlier that two commanders in charge of the northern sector of the country have been removed from their posts after the attack in Inata.
On Tuesday, several hundred people took part in demonstrations in several cities of the country to demand the resignation of the executive for its “inability to put an end to terrorist attacks.”
Burkina Faso has been facing regular and deadly jihadist attacks since 2015, particularly in the northern and eastern regions, in the so-called “three borders” area, bordering Mali and Niger, two countries also facing operations by armed jihadists.
The violence, sometimes mixed with inter-communal clashes, has killed an estimated 2,000 people and forced 1.4 million to flee their homes.
A national mourning has been declared in Burkina Faso since Tuesday until Thursday.