Nineteen killed in Burkina Faso's volatile north

Ouagadougou (AFP) –


Nineteen people died in an attack on a village in the troubled north of Burkina Faso, a security source said Monday.

"Several dozen armed men carried out an attack on the district of Arbinda, shooting several people dead," a local official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The attack took place "on Sunday between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.", or between 1500 and 1700 GMT, the official said.

An emergency meeting was underway to discuss the situation, the official said.

A security source said 19 bodies had been found and a search was underway for others.

Hours before the attack, armed men had stopped three vehicles in Arbinda and set fire to them, killing one of the drivers, the source said.

Arbinda has witnessed a spate of jihadist violence in recent months despite stepped-up security operations.

In April, 62 people were killed in jihadist attacks and ensuing ethnic clashes, and four people travelling by car were ambushed and killed.

Burkina Faso has suffered from increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to a number of jihadist groups, including the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

The raids began in 2015 in the north before targeting the capital Ouagadougou and other regions, notably in the east.

More than 400 people have been killed since 2015 -- mainly in hit-and-run raids -- according to an AFP tally.

Hundreds of schools in the north of the country have had to close after teachers began fleeing the region when they became targets.

Some westerners have been taken hostage and in some cases killed.

Former colonial ruler France has deployed 4,500 troops in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad in a mission codenamed Barkhane to help local forces flush out jihadists.

Burkina Faso has also joined four other Sahel nations (Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) in an initiative aimed at creating a joint 5,000-troop anti-terror force, also backed by France.