Accessibility links

Breaking News

Burkina PM Refuses Jihadi Talks


FILE: Lawyer Apollinaire Kyelem de Tambèla, appointed Prime Minister of Burkina Faso on October 22, 2022 by Captain Ibrahim Traoré, Head of State via coup.

UPDATED WITH NEW INSURGENT ATTACK INFO: OUAGADOUGOU - Burkina Faso's prime minister on Tuesday ruled out negotiations with jihadist insurgents who control swathes of the country as officials reported that around 40 people had been killed in fresh attacks.

"We will never negotiate, either over Burkina Faso's territorial integrity or its sovereignty," Apollinaire Kyelem de Tambela told parliament, adding that the government aimed to double the number of volunteers for the VDP civil defenSe militia to 100,000.

"The only negotiations that matter with these armed bandits are those taking place on the battlefield," de Tambela told the Transitional Legislative Assembly.

Meanwhile, two attacks attributed to jihadist insurgents have killed around 40 people in western Burkina Faso, including volunteers in the VDP civil defense militia, sources said on Tuesday.

Around 20 people died on Saturday when an armed convoy was targeted near Bourasso close to the Malian border, the regional government said, while a security source and local resident said around 20 others were killed in an attack in the same region on Sunday.

Burkina Faso has been ruled since 2022 by a military junta led by Captain Ibrahim Traore, who has vowed to recapture the 40 percent of the country's territory controlled by jihadists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

After a series of bloody attacks since the start of this year, the junta announced in April a general mobilization for the armed forces.

De Tambela said Tuesday that "thanks to our [anti-jihadi] efforts" more than 20,000 households, representing more than 125,000 people, "have returned to their regions," without further detail.

"We will defend our territory and our populations whatever the cost," he said.

Bolstering the nation's military is the VDP - Volunteers for the Defense of the Fatherland (VDP) - comprising civilian volunteers who are given two weeks' military training.

They then work alongside the army, typically carrying out surveillance, information-gathering or escort duties.

The force is one of the keystones of the Traore's anti-jihadist strategy.

But since its inception in December 2019 the VDP has suffered hundreds of casualties, especially in ambushes or roadside bombings.

Despite the high losses, the authorities launched a successful recruitment drive last year, claiming some 90,000 people signed up in response to a call for patriotism, far exceeding the target of 50,000.