Three policemen and five members of a civilian anti-jihadist force were killed in eastern Burkina Faso, security sources and locals said on Tuesday, following a series of deadly attacks.
“Joint units of gendarmes and volunteers for the defense of the mother country (VDP) came under attack in Tanwalbougou in Gourma province” late on Monday, a security source said.
The account was confirmed by a local official with the VDP, an anti-jihadist militia from civilian volunteers, who said the joint patrol was attacked by “several dozen men on motorcycles.”
Another gendarme and a VDP member were injured and taken to hospital in the region’s capital, Fada N’Gourma, the security source said.
Burkina Faso, a poor, locked-in country in the heart of the Sahel, has fought a ruthless jihadist uprising that erupted from nearby Mali in 2015.
More than 1,200 people have been killed and more than a million have fled their homes.
Three people were killed on March 28 in Tanwalbougou, a village about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Fada N’Gourma, and the local gendarmerie unit has been hit by six attacks since 2019.
The latest deaths came after security forces rejected an ambush in the area on Sunday, the VDP source said.
Hundreds of people have marched on Fada N’Gourma’s security after “armed groups” made threats, the source added.
The VDP was established in December 2019 to perform some basic security tasks from the besieged police and army of Burkina Faso.
Civilian volunteers receive two weeks of military training and then work with security forces and usually carry out surveillance, information gathering or escort duties.
But the provisional force has suffered heavy losses.
More than 200 have died since their organization was formed, 20 alone since the beginning of this year, according to an AFP fee.
On April 1, six people were killed in an ambush in Dablo, in the north of the country, when their unit searched for a missing colleague.