MS Risk Blog

Security Advisory:  Burkina Faso Declares State of Emergency

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On 31 December 2018, the President of Burkina Faso declared a partial state of emergency in 7 of the country’s 13 administrative regions: Hauts-Bassins, Boucle de Mouhoun, Cascades, Nord, Sahel, Est, and Centre-Est.  Specifically, the state of emergency will cover the whole of the regions of Est and Sahel; the western provinces of Kossi and Sourou in the Boucle du Mouhoun region; the central-east province of Koulpélogo in the Centre-Est Region; the western province of Kénédougou in the Hauts-Bassins Region; and the northern province of Lorum in the Nord Region. According to Communications Minister Remis Fulgance Dandjinou, “the president has decided to declare a state of emergency in certain provinces of Burkina Faso.  He has also given instructions for specific security measures across the country.”  Under the state of emergency, security forces will have additional powers to search homes and to restrict freedom of movement.

The state of emergency follows a terrorist attack that occurred on 27 December 2018 in Toéni, Sourou province, in which 10 gendarmes were killed and three were wounded in an ambush in the northwest of the country, near the border with Mali.  According to a security source, the gendarmes had been heading to the village of Loroni after a school had been attacked and textbooks torched by armed assailants. The al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) has since claimed responsibility for the attack. Prior to that, on 22 December, three soldiers were killed when their vehicle was struck by a roadside IED between Fada and Kompienbiga.

The spill over of violence from Mali continues to impact the region and there appears to be no end in sight, with neighbouring states increasingly seeing violent activity within their own borders.  Since 2015, Burkina Faso has seen a rise in violent attacks.  While initially, cross border attacks were concentrated in the northern Sahel region of the country, along the border with Mali, attacks have since escalated and in the past several months have increasingly spread further south to the eastern region, along the border with Niger.  Schools, local government officials and security forces have specifically been targeted, while local communities have been threatened. Most attacks have been attributed to jihadist group Ansar al Islam, which emerged near the Malian border in December 2016, and to JNIM, which has sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Anyone currently in Burkina Faso is advised to monitor developments to the situation and remain up to date of local regulations, particularly those liked to the current state of emergency. There currently is a high threat of terrorism and kidnapping across Burkina Faso, including the capital Ouagadougou.  Any travellers are strongly advised to remain discreet regarding personal details, particularly information concerning nationality, employment family. Travellers are further advised to avoid public events and places frequented by Westerners and are advised to remain vigilant at all times and to report any suspicious activity to the authorities.