Burkina Faso says it killed about 100 militants in operation with Niger

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Burkina Faso’s armed forces killed about 100 militants in a joint operation with Niger between November 25 and December 9 in the two countries’ border zone, the Burkinabe army said.

The operation involved hundreds of troops deployed on both sides of the border, an army statement said. They arrested about 20 suspects, seized guns and hundreds of motorcycles, and destroyed about 15 improvised explosive devices, it added.

Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State are waging an insurgency in Burkina Faso, Niger and neighbouring Mali which has killed thousands of civilians and displaced about two million in the last few years.

The insurgents have inflicted heavy casualties on the region’s armies, and killed 53 people at a gendarmerie post in Burkina Faso last month in the worst strike on security forces in years. Since then, more soldiers have been killed almost every week in scattered attacks.

The recent operation was the second phase of a joint offensive with Niger called “Taanli” that began in June.

Four Burkinabe soldiers were killed and nine others wounded in the operation when they hit an improvised explosive device in Komandjari province, said the statement released on Monday.

Burkina Faso also announced a new cabinet late on Monday, following the appointment of a new prime minister on December 10.

President Roch Kabore fired his last prime minister this month after the escalating security crisis led to street protests, with some people calling for his resignation.

Kabore had promised a tighter team that would focus on the country’s security challenges. The cabinet has been reduced to a team of 26 from 34 previously.