OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — Jihadists attacked a town in northern Burkina Faso and killed 35 civilians, most of them women, and the ensuing clashes with security forces left 80 jihadists dead, the West African nation’s president, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, announced late Tuesday.
The violence, which erupted in the town of Arbinda in the Sahel region near the country’s border with Mali, lasted for several hours, according to a military statement. Seven members of the security forces who responded were also killed.
A number of Islamic extremist groups are known to operate in Burkina Faso, and jihadist attacks are frequent in the area.
For years Burkina Faso was spared the kind of Islamic extremism long seen across the border in Mali, where it took a 2013 French-led military intervention to dislodge jihadists from power in several major towns.
That changed with a pair of deadly attacks in 2016 and 2017 in the capital of Ouagadougou, both of which targeted spots popular with foreigners.
Frequent attacks in the country’s north and east already have displaced more than a half million people, according to the United Nations.
At least 37 civilians were killed in eastern Burkina Faso last month when suspected jihadists ambushed a convoy carrying employees of the Canadian mining company Semafo.
While Burkina Faso’s military has received training from France and the United States, it has so far failed to stem the surge in extremist violence.