Four Burkina Faso army auxiliaries and a Burkinabe policeman have been killed in an attack in the center of the country, the army announced Saturday.

“Following an attack on Friday against a VDP position (Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland, civilian auxiliaries to the army) in the vicinity of Silmiougou,” police units were deployed as reinforcements, the army general staff said in a press release.

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“One police officer and four VDPs unfortunately lost their lives during the fighting,” the statement continued, adding that their forces had killed “around 10 terrorists” and forced them to retreat.

In mid-July, Burkina Faso’s transitional president Captain Ibrahim Traore, who seized power in a September 2022 coup, deplored the “increasingly recurrent attacks against civilians”, saying the jihadists were displaying “cowardice.”

The apparent motive for the country’s two coups in recent years was anger at failures to stem a extremist insurgency since it spilled over from neighboring Mali in 2015.

More than 16,000 civilians, troops and police have died in extremist attacks, according to an NGO count, including more than 5,000 since the start of this year.

More than two million people have also been displaced within Burkina Faso, making it one of the worst internal displacement crises in Africa.

In a separate statement on Saturday, the Burkinabe army said that “more than 65 terrorists” had been killed in the west of the country between August 7 and September 1.

“Large quantities of weapons, ammunition, foodstuffs, vehicles and communications equipment were recovered” at the same time from “dismantled terrorist bases”, it added.

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