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article imageThousands attend funerals of 7 Burkina Faso troops dead in blast

By Armel BAILY (AFP)     Aug 31, 2018 in World

Thousands of people attended the funerals of seven soldiers killed in a roadside bombing in eastern Burkina Faso, in a ceremony held under tight security on Friday.

The troops were killed by a blast on Tuesday after they were sent to the town of Pama as reinforcements when a police station there came under attack, in the heaviest recent toll for the Eastern Region.

"It is needless for me to say that the pain is very strong for the nation, for the armed forces and for the parents," said the Burkina Faso army chief Major General Oumarou Sadou in an emotional service on the outskirts of the capital Ouagadougou.

The Sahel state, one of the poorest countries in the world, has been battling Islamist violence since 2015, starting with cross-border incursions in the north.

The recent surge of attacks in the east is the result of pressure on jihadist insurgents in neighbouring Mali and Niger, experts say.

On August 11, four gendarmes and a civilian were killed when their vehicle struck a mine about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Fada N'Gourma, the main town in the Eastern Region administrative area.

A sixth person, also a gendarme, was killed later in a shootout with the assailants.

On June 17, a policeman was killed in the town of Comin-Yanga in a simultaneous attack on the local police and gendarmerie stations.

Security forces have carried out a wave of arrests, detaining hundreds of people in connection with the attacks.

Official figures released in April showed there had been 80 attacks in three years that killed 133 people, many of them state officials. Hundreds of schools and town halls have been closed.

Ouagadougou, in the centre of the country, has suffered three attacks in two years, leaving 60 dead.

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