Burkina Faso

  1. Violence fears force early polls closure in Burkina Faso

    n electoral official holds up a ballot as counting of the votes started after the closing of a polling station during the first round of the presidential election in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 22 November 2020

    Dozens of polling stations in Burkina Faso closed early on Sunday due to security threats, according to the head of the electoral commission.

    The country has suffered from an escalating jihadist conflict.

    Hundreds of thousands of people were already unable to cast their ballots because Islamist violence has rendered parts of the north and east too dangerous.

    Analysts expect a tight contest, as President Roch Kaboré seeks a second five-year term.

    Mr Kaboré's opponents accuse him of failing to stop the jihadist attacks, which have killed more than 2,000 people this year.

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  2. Fourteen Burkinabe soldiers killed in ambush

    Map of Burkina Faso

    Fourteen Burkinabe soldiers were killed after suspected militants ambushed them in the northern part of the country.

    The attack happened in Oudalan province, near the borders with Mali and Niger, according to the ministry of communication.

    The ministry said on Thursday that security forces had been deployed to the area to track down the perpetrators.

    The attack was carried out on Wednesday.

    President Roch Kaboré has suspended his campaigns for 48 hours in honour of the soldiers who died.

    Burkina Faso is set to hold presidential elections on 22 November.

    President Kaboré has promised peace if re-elected and urged the opposition not to use terrorism as a campaign tool.

  3. Burkina Faso leader launches re-election campaign

    President Roch Kaboré
    Image caption: President Roch Kaboré (C) was first elected in December 2015 after months of political unrest

    Burkina Faso's President Roch Kaboré has launched his re-election campaign promising to deal with the growing threat of Islamist militancy facing the country.

    He faulted his opponents for making the threat a campaign issue.

    "I come to ask for five more years so that together we work for the security, stability, peace and resilience of the Burkinabe people," Mr Kaboré said.

    He has been facing criticism over his handling of the Islamist insurgency, a threat that has spread across the Sahel region.

    The elections will be held on 22 November.

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  4. French air strikes in Mali kill dozens of militants

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    A map of the Sahel region

    France says its forces have killed more than 50 jihadists in air strikes in central Mali.

    The French defence minister, Florence Parly, who is in Mali, said the al-Qaeda affiliated militants had been killed on Friday near the borders with Burkina Faso and Niger.

    She said weapons and other equipment had been seized.

    Ms Parly said France would continue to support the Malian army in its efforts against the jihadists, who operate across the Sahel.

    There had been concern that a coup in Mali in August would disrupt counter-insurgency efforts.

    More than 5,000 French troops are stationed in the region, but they have been unable to contain the militants.

    The vast semi-desert region is also affected by ethnic violence, human and drug trafficking, and banditry.

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  5. Court clears 13 Burkinabe presidential candidates

    President Roch Kaboré
    Image caption: President Roch Kaboré is seeking a second term

    Thirteen candidates have been cleared to run for the presidency in Burkina Faso's elections scheduled for 22 November.

    President Roch Kaboré, who is seeking a second term, and opposition leader Zephirin Diabre were among those allowed to contest.

    Others include the former ruling Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) party's candidate Eddie Komboigo.

    The constitutional court did not clear one candidate, Kindo Harouna, because he did not pay the required nomination fee.

    Eight presidential candidates and 22 opposition parties signed an agreement in August to rally behind any candidate who will reach the second round of the elections to boost chances of unseating President Kaboré.

  6. Sahel worries top UN humanitarian 'most'

    The UN's humanitarian chief has told BBC Focus on Africa that the "place that worries [him] most" is the central Sahel.

    Mark Lowcock of Ocha pointed to conflicts arising from people having to compete for already strained resources - and the combination of "low development", high poverty, accelerating climate change and rapid population growth.

    "You're seeing clashes, for example, between farming families and families who make a living through nomadic pastoralism," Mr Lowcock said.

    "All of those things, together with the fact that this is not the region where the empowerment of women and girls is advanced as much as in some other places, are causing grievances."

    His comments come as the UN hopes to raise $1bn (£770m) with a virtual donor conference hosted with Denmark, Germany and the EU.

    Armed militia operate in the Sahel, which has become a frontline in the war against Islamist militancy for almost a decade.

    "The extremist groups are one manifestation of that, there's also an uptick in organised crime," Mr Lowcock told the BBC.

    He said that people being forced from their homes is "a symptom of these underlying problems".

    "Not much short of two million people are now displaced across the region - a massive increase over the last couple of years."

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    Video content

    Video caption: Mark Lowcock says more than 13 million people in the region need help
  7. Video content

    Video caption: Several African countries hit by devasating floods

    Millions of people have been affected by floods in sub-Saharan Africa; in Senegal a year's worth of rain fell in just 24 hours.

  8. UN: Half a million Burkinabè children severely malnourished

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    An abandoned school building
    Image caption: Islamists have forced families from their homes and communities

    The UN children's agency, Unicef, says some 535,000 children in Burkina Faso are suffering from acute malnutrition.

    Unicef says many of those affected have been displaced by jihadist and ethnic conflicts.

    The coronavirus pandemic had made the situation worse, it adds, restricting access to food and healthcare.

    More than 150,000 of the affected children have been classed as severely malnourished, which means they are nine times more likely to die than well-nourished children.

    There has been an upsurge of Islamist violence in Burkina Faso in recent months.

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  9. Burkina Faso opposition to unite behind one candidate

    Opposition leader Zéphirin Diabré
    Image caption: The opposition leader Zéphirin Diabré (pictured) and seven other candidates signed the agreement

    The opposition in Burkina Faso has agreed to rally behind any challenger to President Roch Kaboré who reaches the second round in November's elections.

    Eight presidential candidates and 22 opposition parties signed the agreement on Tuesday.

    Should two opposition candidates reach the second round, then their respective parties would support them, the agreement states.

    The first round of the presidential election will be held on 22 November.

    Opposition leader Zéphirin Diabré said the agreement was "historic" and would enable "the writing of a new chapter", according to AFP news agency.

  10. Jihadists 'target sleeping villagers' in Cameroon

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    A man riding a bike in Maroua in northern Cameroon, 2020
    Image caption: Boko Haram began its attacks in Cameroon's Far North region in 2014

    Suspected Islamist Boko Haram militants have killed 15 sleeping people and wounded six others in a grenade attack in northern Cameroon, reports say.

    A security source and a local official told the Reuters news agency that the attackers targeted a camp for displaced people in the village of Nguetchewe, close to the border with Nigeria.

    The victims - including women and children - were asleep when the assailants arrived.

    Boko Haram has been fighting in north-east Nigeria for over a decade but has also been active in Cameroon, Chad and Niger. A regional military operation has failed to stop the attacks.

    Donkey cart attack

    Meanwhile, in northern Burkina Faso at least six people, most of them children, have been killed after a donkey cart ran over an improvised explosive device (IED) in a region which has seen many jihadist attacks.

    A security source told a French news agency that four other people were injured and had been taken to a hospital in the nearby Ouahigouya town.

    The victims were returning from grazing with their animals.

    Since 2015 Burkina Faso has seen an upsurge in Islamist violence – spreading from Mali - and more than 1,000 people have been killed and a million have fled their homes.

    Map of countries in West Africa affected by jihadist violence
  11. Burkina Faso 'mass graves point to army killings'

    BBC World Service

    A policeman patrolling in the center of Ouahigouya, eastern Burkina Faso.
    Image caption: Security forces in Burkina Faso have been fighting jihadists since 2016

    The bodies of at least 180 men have been found in mass graves in northern Burkina Faso where government forces are fighting a jihadist insurgency, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

    There was evidence they were victims of extrajudicial killings by the army, the rights group said.

    The men had been found shot dead under bridges, in fields and along major roadways near the town of Djibo in groups of up to 20 , before being buried by local residents.

    The group has urged the government to find out who turned the area into what it called a "killing field".

    Defence Minister Chérif Moumina Sy suggested militant groups suggested militant groups might be to blame.

    The government has said it will investigate the allegations.

  12. Leaders meet to discuss Sahel crisis

    BBC World Service

    Map showing jihadist activity in west Africa

    Leaders of five West African countries and President Emmanuel Macron of France have been meeting to review their efforts to intensify the fight against jihadist militants in the Sahel.

    Arriving for the summit in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, Mr Macron praised what he called the real successes of recent months, which include the killing of a local militant leader.

    Jihadist groups have become increasingly active in the Sahel region in recent years, despite the presence of French forces and UN peacekeepers.

    Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed in almost daily attacks across the region.

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  13. Huge spike in Burkina Faso school attacks - HRW

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    Burkinabe troops in the city of Ouhigouya in the north of the country.
    Image caption: Soldiers are battling Islamist militants who oppose "Western" education

    An international pressure group says a surge in Islamist militant attacks on schools in Burkina Faso is having a devastating impact on education.

    Human Rights Watch (HRW) said more than 200 teachers and other staff had been targeted since 2017 - some of them shot, others beheaded.

    The armed Islamists say they oppose education as it is French and Western.

    They have shot over the heads of students to scare them away. Schools have been blown up and used as military bases. Books have been burned and canteens looted.

    All schools in Burkina Faso are now shut because of coronavirus.

    But Islamist militant attacks had already forced 2,500 schools to close, depriving more than a 330,000 children of education.

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  14. Burkina Faso probes death of 12 suspects in custody

    BBC World Service

    A map of Burkina Faso

    A local prosecutor in the east of Burkina Faso says an inquiry has been opened after 12 people detained on suspicion of terrorism were found dead in their police cells.

    They were reported to be among 25 suspects from the ethnic Fula community who were being held in the town of Fada N'Gourma.

    Burkina Faso's security forces as well as vigilante groups have been accused of killing Fula civilians in revenge after jihadist violence.

    Human rights activists say a Fula teacher was found dead two weeks ago at a police station in the capital, Ouagadougou, and several Fula have recently disappeared.