Kidnapped women and children freed in Burkina Faso

Gunmen had kidnapped 66 people on January 12 and 13 on the outskirts of two villages in Arbinda district.

Security forces have rescued 66 women and children who were abducted by armed fighters in northern Burkina Faso last week.

Gunmen abducted the women and their children on January 12 and 13 on the outskirts of two villages in the Arbinda district of Soum province in the Sahel region.

Security forces carried out a rescue operation and freed 27 women and 39 babies and children in the adjacent Center-North region, national broadcaster Radiodiffusion Television du Burkina (RTP) said on Friday.

“They have found freedom after eight long days in the hands of their kidnappers,” said an RTP presenter.

In its main evening bulletin, RTB, referring to the army’s “operation”, showed pictures of the women freed and taken to the capital, Ouagadougou.

Several government and security officials confirmed the news, Reuters and AFP news agencies reported.

The kidnapping raised alarm from the United Nations, while the country’s military government warned of an increase in attacks on civilians.

Burkina Faso is one of several West African countries fighting a rampant armed uprising with ties to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS).

Armed rebels have occupied territory in the country’s arid and mainly rural north, executing hundreds of villagers and displacing thousands more in the process.

They have also closed off certain areas in recent months and have made it increasingly dangerous to deliver supplies to trapped citizens.

Faced with severe food shortages, many villagers have resorted to gathering wild fruits, leaves and seeds to feed their families. They say that venturing into the bush makes them vulnerable to attack.

On Thursday, two suspected attacks in the north and northwest of the country killed at least 18 people, including 16 vigilantes supporting the army.

Captain Ibrahim Traore, leader of the military government that took power last September, said in December that his goal was to retake territory occupied by “hordes of terrorists.”

Last week, he said armed rebels were changing tactics to “focus on civilians.”


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