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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

At least eight killed in extremist attacks in Burkina Faso

The poor west African country is battling increasing Islamist militancy

In this file photo, soldiers carry the coffin of a comrade killed after their vehicle struck a roadside bomb in eastern Burkina Faso, on August 31, 2018 in Ouagadougou. STR / AFP
In this file photo, soldiers carry the coffin of a comrade killed after their vehicle struck a roadside bomb in eastern Burkina Faso, on August 31, 2018 in Ouagadougou. STR / AFP

At least eight civilians have been killed in twin attacks in eastern Burkina Faso, a poor West African country where jihadists have been gaining ground in recent months, local authorities said Saturday.

"Two terror attacks were carried out in the villages of Diabiga and Kompienbiga" overnight in eastern Kompienga province, claiming at least eight lives, the regional governor said in a statement.

The governorate of the eastern region says five people including an imam were killed in one attack on a mosque in the community of Diabiga.

Meanwhile in Kompienga province, three people belonging to the same family were killed and another two injured by suspected Islamic militants on mopeds, according to another security source.

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Since 2015, Burkina Faso has battled increased Islamist militancy of the sort that plagues neighbouring Mali and Niger, and experts say the recent surge is likely the result of pressure on jihadist insurgents there.

But until now, extremists in Burkina Faso have largely targeted security forces.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore recently announced that the country would put an end to "destabilisation activity" in the east, where extremist attacks have been increasing.

Since then more troops have been sent to the region, where extremists use the forests as hideouts.

The rise of militancy across the Sahel has alarmed western powers like France and the United States to the extent they have deployed troops and air power across the region’s sprawling arid landscapes.

In May, a coordinated attack on the French embassy and army headquarters in the capital Ouagadougou killed eight people.