Al-Qaeda-Linked Group Claims Responsibility for Deadly Attack on Burkina Faso Soldiers

Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), an armed group affiliated with al-Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for a devastating attack on June 11 that killed more than 100 Burkina Faso soldiers in the Mansila area near the Niger border, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. The attack is considered one of the deadliest suffered by the West African Sahel nation’s army.

JNIM released a statement and several videos showing intense gunfire around the army base, captured ammunition and weapons, and at least seven Burkina Faso soldiers taken hostage. The government has been struggling to combat these armed groups, recruiting 50,000 volunteers with limited training, making them vulnerable to losses and inefficient in their efforts.

Ulf Laessing, head of the Sahel program at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, noted that nearly 50-60 percent of Burkina Faso’s territory is outside government control, despite the government’s efforts to purchase weapons and establish a military partnership with Russia. The unrest in Burkina Faso, along with similar problems in Niger and Mali, threatens the stability of the entire Sahel region, as armed groups control large swathes of territory and use them as bases to target southern coastal countries.

Burkina Faso’s situation is particularly dire due to its small size and dense population, leading to more civilian victims whenever the army attacks. Over the past decade, armed groups have killed thousands and displaced more than two million people in the country. Burkina Faso also topped the recent Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) list of the world’s most neglected displacement crises, with violence killing more than 8,400 people last year and trapping about two million civilians in 36 blockaded towns by the end of 2023.