Hundreds in Burkina Faso protest ‘abandonment’ to jihadists

Hundreds in Burkina Faso protest ‘abandonment’ to jihadists

Several hundred people protested in southeastern Burkina Faso Saturday against what they described as the government has left them to their own devices to fend off deadly jihadist attacks.

The protest is the first of its kind since Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba took power following a coup in January.

His predecessor had been accused of being ineffective in battling jihadist violence.

“No to the abandonment of the Kompienga province,” men and women cried in front of a public administration building in the town of Pama, according to local media.

In a letter to the province’s high commissioner seen by AFP, demonstrators criticised a “rapid encroachment of terrorism” threatening to engulf the province near the border with Togo and Benin.

Their plea for help, signed by religious dignitaries, civil society leaders and traditional chiefs, denounced the “great neglect and abandonment by the state”, accusing public officials of having fled to a neighbouring province.

Since February, jihadists have taken down telephone antennas and electricity supply lines and control all main axes in the province.

“The province of Kompienga has been cut off from the rest of Burkina Faso, and besieged by armed groups,” the signatories said.

Burkina Faso has been battered by jihadist raids since 2015, with movements linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

More than 2,000 people have been killed and 1.8 million displaced.

Damibahas has said the security crisis is his priority, but the deadly attacks continue.

He overthrew elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore in January, accusing him of being ineffective in the face of jihadist violence.

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