Its critical geographic location in the Sahel, at a transit
point for militants directed to Nigeria, Mali, and North Africa, exposes
Burkina Faso to diverse vulnerabilities, from food insecurity to terrorist attacks
by Islamist groups seeking to win new areas of influence in the continent.
Until January 2016, when gunmen affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
stormed the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital, and left 30 people dead and dozens wounded,
Burkina Faso was virtually immune to West African terrorism. Six people
suspected of involvement in the January attack were arrested today, hours after three policemen were killed in the Intamgom police station by three or four unidentified attackers who then headed to the Mali
border, 5 km away.
Over the past year, AQIM has claimed responsibility for
the November 2015 attack in Mali’s capital Bamako and for the March
2016 attacks in Grand-Bassam, in Ivory
Coast. Weakened by the growing influence of ISIS
in the region, AQIM is striving to reestablish itself as the main jihadi group
in the region and to prove that it can “spread its violent campaign to new frontiers.” A deteriorating security situation has triggered international
statements of commitment to join forces against greater jihadi threats in the
region, especially in light of ISIS’ increasing infiltration in the continent.
More terrorist attacks are to be expected as rivalries between terrorist groups
– such as the bitter competition between AQIM and ISIS – grow.
“Unidentified gunmen killed three police officers in northern Burkina Faso
near the Malian border, a regional official said on Wednesday.
official from Oudalam province said: "Three police officers were killed.
The attackers killed them in the police station in Intamgom," a village
about 5km from the border.
three or four attackers. They headed back to Mali afterwards. We aren't sure
yet, but it looks like a terrorist attack given the modus operandi," he
The assault was
the second to hit a police station near Mali in less than a fortnight.
Two officers were
injured on May 17 when gunmen raided a police station in Koutoukou in the
neighbouring province of Soum.
Until this year
Burkina Faso had avoided the attacks and hostage-taking by jihadist groups
which had wracked other Sahel countries since 2008.”