Three Burkina Faso soldiers died and 11 militants were killed during an attack on the troops Wednesday, the army said, amid worsening insecurity that has sparked anti-government protests.
The attack took place against an army detachment in Thiou in the Yatenga Region, the army said in a statement Thursday.
“Eleven terrorists were neutralized. However, three soldiers fell during combat and dozens were wounded,” it said.
The attack by suspected Islamist militants was the latest of three since November 14 that have killed more than 60 security forces and more than a dozen civilians, sparking nationwide anger and protests, with calls for President Roch Marc Kabore to resign.
Opponents urged people to stage fresh protests Saturday against the government’s inability to contain a four-year insurgency by militants linked to al-Qaida and Islamic State that has killed thousands and displaced upward of a million people.
Ouagadougou’s mayor issued a statement Wednesday saying no protests had been authorized and asking police to take necessary measures to stop illegal demonstrations.
The education ministry said schools would be shut nationwide on Friday and Saturday for the safety of students and teachers, given the calls for protests.
The U.N. special representative for West Africa and the Sahel said Thursday that the situation in Burkina Faso was concerning, particularly in a region that has seen three military takeovers since the start of the year.
“I appeal to the wisdom of civil society and other actors to prevent a country like Burkina … from falling into a crisis like what is happening elsewhere,” Mahamat Saleh Annadif told a news conference.
Some of the anger in Burkina Faso last week was directed against former colonial power France, which has deployed thousands of soldiers in the West Africa Sahel region to combat the militants.
Hundreds of people in the city of Kaya massed over the weekend to block a convoy of French logistics and armored vehicles on its way to neighboring Niger. The convoy has still not been able to leave Burkina Faso.