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Burkina Faso protesters demand end to attacks as army touts success

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Thousands of protesters in Burkina Faso on Saturday demanded greater government action to counter jihadist attacks, as the armed forces hailed recent success against militants.

The protesters gathered in

, the capital of Burkina Faso’s Centre-North region, waving placards reading “No to growing insecurity” and “We want to cultivate our fields in peace”.

The latest demonstration follows an attack on a police unit that claimed the lives of 11 officers last Monday, protest organiser Boukari Ouedraogo told AFP.

“We no longer want planes to bring back the bodies of our husbands,” said Aguiratou Sawadogo, the wife of a soldier.

There were reports of similar demonstrations elsewhere, while the opposition on Friday called for marches nationwide to “protest against the deterioration of the security situation and demand strong measures”.

On June 12, several thousand people demonstrated in Dori, in northern Burkina Faso, to denounce the inaction of authorities after a massacre in the village of Solhan.

At least 120 people died in the attack during the night of June 4. Local sources said 160 people died.

The armies of Burkina Faso and neighboring Niger had earlier hailed the results of joint operations against jihadist forces that have plagued the impoverished West African region in recent years.

In a joint statement on Saturday, the armies said they had killed more than 100 “terrorists” two weeks into a coordinated campaign along their common border.

Operations involving several hundred soldiers from each army had destroyed around 100 motorbikes and other vehicles used by jihadists, as well as capturing or destroying weapons, they said.

“These results have lived up to our expectations,” said General Salifou Modi, chief of staff of Niger’s army, during a visit to a military camp at Dori, the capital of the Sahel region in northern Burkina Faso.

A number of jihadists had also been arrested, he added.

The operation has focused on Tera and Torodi in Niger, as well as Dori, Mansia and Diapaga in Burkina Faso.

“In these areas, the populations will be left in peace — at least for a while,” said General Moise Miningou, chief of staff of the Burkinabe army. “We think that is what is essential.

“We are poor countries and our future lies in being able to pool our meagre resources,” he added.

That way, he said, “we will get much better results. That’s what has been done and we don’t mean to stop so far down the right track.”

The two countries have had to contend with repeated attacks from jihadists since 2015, which have claimed hundreds of lives and forced thousands to flee their homes.

The attacks have been attributed to groups affiliated to the Islamic State organisation or to Al Qaeda.

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