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Burkina Faso Leader Denies Mutiny After Deadly Insurgent Attack

BURKINA Faso’s military leader, Ibrahim Traore, appeared on national television on Thursday to refute claims of a mutiny within the army. This follows a recent al Qaeda-linked insurgent attack that resulted in the deaths of over 100 soldiers near the Niger border.

Response to the attack

Traore, commenting for the first time since the assault, did not address the claim of responsibility by the al Qaeda-affiliated group but confirmed that Burkina Faso had initiated a military operation and sent reinforcement troops in response to the attack.

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Speculations and clarifications

Speculations about Traore’s safety emerged after gunfire was heard near the presidential office and a rocket shell landed close to the state-run RTB Television headquarters in Ouagadougou on June 12. Addressing these concerns, Traore stated, ‘It’s absolutely not the case. We are here,’ while speaking to a crowd outside RTB’s headquarters. He clarified that the rocket was mistakenly fired by those protecting the TV channel’s staff, resulting in injuries but no fatalities.

Security reinforcements

In the past week, planes carrying Russian reinforcements and Malian officials arrived to bolster Traore’s security, according to a Reuters report, which added that this followed discussions between Burkina Faso and Mali’s juntas. Reuters adds that its flight tracking data from FlightRadar24 indicated that a Russian-registered cargo plane made seven trips to Ouagadougou from Gao and Bamako in Mali between June 15 and June 18. Traore mentioned that six Russian planes had transported UN equipment from Gao after a mission concluded there.

Deadly attack details

A day before the events in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s army experienced one of its deadliest attacks in the Mansila area. The al Qaeda-affiliated group Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) claimed responsibility for the assault. According to the SITE Intelligence Group, a JNIM statement reported that ‘fighters stormed a military post in the town, where they killed 107 soldiers and took control of the site.’

This recent turmoil highlights the close ties between the neighbouring junta-led states and their increasing reliance on Russian support rather than Western powers for security in a region plagued by political instability and Islamist insurgencies.

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