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10 Burkina Soldiers Dead, 50 Injured in Attack: Army

FILE - An aerial view of Djibo, Burkina Faso, Feb. 18, 2021.

At least 10 Burkina Faso soldiers died and around 50 were injured on Monday in an assault in the northern city of Djibo, the army said.

The "terrorist attack" hit the 14th regiment at a base in Djibo, which has been under a jihadist blockade for three months, the army said.

"The preliminary toll is 10 soldiers fallen during fighting and about 50 injured and being treated," the statement said. "On the enemy side, at least 18 bodies of terrorists have been counted during mopping-up operations which are still under way."

Air support had been called in to back up the operations.

A security source told AFP the pre-dawn raiders had fired shells at the Djibo barracks, adding that "other strategic installations in the town were also targeted."

Djibo's population of some 30,000 has been cut off from outsiders for three months after jihadists blew up bridges and took control of the main roads.

An attack on a supply convoy heading for Djibo on September 26 left 37 dead — 27 of them soldiers. Seventy truck drivers are still missing.

The attack helped trigger the latest coup in Burkina Faso just four days later led by young army captain Ibrahim Traore, who became interim president on October 14, vowing to win back territory from jihadists.

It was the West African nation's second coup in eight months

"We are confronted with a security and humanitarian crisis without precedent," Traore said at his swearing-in. "Our aims are none other than the reconquest of territory occupied by these hordes of terrorists. Burkina's existence is in danger."

Traore toppled Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who had seized power only in January, forcing out Burkina's last elected President Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

The motive for both coups was anger at failures to stem a seven-year jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and driven nearly two million people from their homes.