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Burkina Faso leader names new army chief after jihadist raid

By AFP   |   29 December 2016   |   2:29 pm
Soldiers of the Burkina Faso's Armed Forces carry the coffin of servicemen killed during an attack in Nassoumbou few days ago, at the cemetery in Ouagadougou on December 20, 2016. Mali's president said on December 20 he could let Burkina Faso forces pursue jihadist fighters when they flee across the border into his country, days after militants massacred 12 Burkinabe soldiers. Around 40 fighters attacked a base some 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the Burkina-Mali border on December 16 in what local authorities called the biggest ever jihadist attack on the army. / AFP PHOTO / Ahmed OUOBA

Soldiers of the Burkina Faso’s Armed Forces carry the coffin of servicemen killed during an attack in Nassoumbou few days ago, at the cemetery in Ouagadougou on December 20, 2016. Mali’s president said on December 20 he could let Burkina Faso forces pursue jihadist fighters when they flee across the border into his country, days after militants massacred 12 Burkinabe soldiers. Around 40 fighters attacked a base some 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the Burkina-Mali border on December 16 in what local authorities called the biggest ever jihadist attack on the army. / AFP PHOTO / Ahmed OUOBA

Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kabore has named a new military commander, two weeks after jihadists killed 12 soldiers in a major raid, a government statement said Thursday.

Colonel Oumarou Sadou was made chief of the armed forces general staff, according to the document released after a cabinet meeting. He replaces General Pingrenoma Zagre.

The appointment “comes in the framework of the reorganisation of the armed forces”, Kabore said on Twitter.

Sadou, 57, comes from the arid Sahel region in northern Burkina Faso, which is frequently attacked by jihadists from Mali, across the border.

On December 12, jihadists killed 12 soldiers in one such attack against an army squad at Nassoumbou in the Djibo district, about 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the frontier.

The raid — the deadliest ever against Burkina Faso’s military — caused a public outcry, with some calling for the sacking of a military leadership accused of failing to match up to the jihadist threat.

A first attack on troops in the same region in October left six dead, two civilians as well as four soldiers.

Sadou, who served as army chief of staff in 2011 and was later entrusted with the oversight tasks of inspector of the armed forces, has a reputation for tough tactics.

Long spared the Islamist violence affecting several nations in the region, notably Mali and Niger, Burkina has been hit by a series of attacks and kidnappings since April 2015.

Most of the raids have occurred near the northern border, but in January 2016, 30 people were killed and 71 wounded in the capital Ouagadougou after gunmen stormed a restaurant and a four-star hotel, taking hostages.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attacks, which ended after Burkinabe troops and French counterterrorist forces posted in the country staged an offensive.




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