Police officer, two soldiers killed in IED explosion in Côte d’Ivoire, World News
At least two soldiers and a police officer were killed on Saturday when their vehicle struck an explosive device in northeastern Côte d’Ivoire, near the border with Burkina Faso, a security source told AFP.
“The explosion also left three injured,” said the source. It comes a week after another attack by suspected jihadists killed an Ivorian soldier in the town of Tougbo a few kilometers from the border.
It also comes just two days after Côte d’Ivoire and France inaugurated a counterterrorism academy near Abidjan intended to strengthen the capacity of the Sahel region to counter a widespread jihadist threat.
Security experts have warned that the region’s bloody jihadist insurgency could spread south to countries in the Gulf of Guinea.
It was the fourth attack in the West African region in just over two months.
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The latest wave of attacks dates back to March, when dozens of suspected Islamists killed three members of the Ivorian security forces in a double raid on army positions near the border with Burkina Faso.
“Three terrorists” were killed and four were arrested, said the army.
These attacks were blamed on jihadists active in Burkina Faso, as well as in neighboring Mali and Niger.
The Sahelian insurgency erupted in northern Mali in 2012 before spreading to Niger and Burkina Faso in 2015.
Côte d’Ivoire was first affected in a jihadist attack in March 2016, when 19 people died in a raid in Grand-Bassam, a seaside resort near Abidjan.
In June 2020, 14 soldiers were killed in an attack on Kafolo.
“The north of Côte d’Ivoire, along the border with Burkina Faso, is under the boot of jihadist groups. This region constitutes an important security aspect for the Ivorian state,” recently told AFP. Ivorian counterterrorism expert Lassina Diarra.
On Thursday, Ivorian Prime Minister Patrick Achi and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian attended the official inauguration of the International Academy for the Fight against Terrorism at the gates of Abidjan.
The Ivorian Minister of Defense, Tene Birahima Ouattara, declared that the academy would be “a focal point of regional competence in the fight against terrorism for the benefit of the stability of our States and the security of our populations”.
A former colonial power, France already plays a strategic role in the region with a military presence of 5,100 men at the head of Operation Barkhane.
But French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday announced a troop withdrawal and a new international task force, promising “a profound transformation of our military presence in the Sahel”.