14 soldiers killed in Burkina Faso jihadist attack

The attack took place Wednesday in the country's north, near the border with Mali and Niger, and came ahead of presidential and legislative elections on November 22.

FILE: A picture take on 30 October 2018 shows Burkinabe gendarmes sitting on their vehicle in the city of Ouhigouya in the north of the country. Picture: AFP

OUAGADOUGOU - Fourteen soldiers were killed after their patrol was ambushed in northern Burkina Faso in one of the worst attacks on the army during a five-year-old jihadist insurgency, the government said.

The attack took place Wednesday in the country's north, near the border with Mali and Niger, and came ahead of presidential and legislative elections on November 22.

"A convoy of the Tin-Akoff military detachment" was ambushed by "armed terrorist groups", government spokesperson Remis Fulgance Dandjinou said on Thursday.

Northern Burkina Faso has been badly hit by jihadists who began making incursions from neighbouring Mali in 2015.

The attacks have left at least 1,200 people dead and forced more than a million from their homes.

The most recent was in October, when gunmen executed 24 internally displaced people in the northern town of Pissila.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, who is seeking a second term, launched his campaign last week by promising to bring back "peace" to the country.

But his critics say he has been unable to confront the growing jihadist threat during his first term.

The violence will prevent residents of almost 1,500 villages out of some 8,000 in the country from taking part in the vote.

In September, parliament passed a law allowing the results to be validated even if polling did not take place everywhere.

Burkina Faso is one of the world's poorest countries and its armed forces are under-equipped.

Last year, jihadist attacks and ethnic violence fomented by the insurgency killed at least 4,000 people in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, according to the UN.

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