The Economic Community of West African States (CEDEAO) has expressed its shock and solidarity with the people of Burkina Faso after a deadly terrorist attack in the northern town of Koumbri on September 4, 2023. The attack claimed the lives of 53 members of the security forces, including 49 soldiers and four volunteers for the defense of the homeland (VDP).
According to the Burkinabè government, the attack was carried out by armed groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, who ambushed a military convoy near Koumbri, about 100 kilometers north of the capital Ouagadougou. The attackers used heavy weapons and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to inflict heavy casualties on the security forces, who were on a reconnaissance mission in the area.
The CEDEAO Commission issued a statement on September 5, 2023, condemning the terrorist attack and extending its condolences to the bereaved families and wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured. The Commission also reaffirmed its commitment to support Burkina Faso and other member states in their fight against terrorism and violent extremism in the region.
The statement read: “The CEDEAO Commission has learned with stunnedness the death of about fifty soldiers and Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland (VDP) following fighting against armed groups in the town of Koumbri, Northern Burkina Faso, on September 4, 2023. The CEDEAO Commission extends its condolences to the bereaved families and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured. The Commission condemns the terrorist attacks and expresses solidarity with the Burkinabè people.”
The attack in Koumbri was one of the deadliest in Burkina Faso’s history, which has been plagued by insecurity and violence since 2015. According to the United Nations, more than 1.2 million people have been displaced by the conflict, and more than 2,000 civilians have been killed in 2020 alone. The country is also facing a humanitarian crisis, with more than 3.5 million people in need of assistance.
The CEDEAO, which comprises 15 West African countries, has been actively involved in promoting peace and stability in Burkina Faso and other neighboring countries affected by terrorism. The regional bloc has deployed a Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to combat Boko Haram and other extremist groups in the Lake Chad Basin, and has also supported the G5 Sahel Force, a joint military initiative of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.