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Burkina Faso declares two days of mourning after the death of 41 militiamen | Burkina Faso

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Authorities in Burkina Faso have declared a two-day period of mourning after suspected militants killed at least 41 members of a government-backed civilian militia in the country’s northern desert this week.

A column of civilian fighters from the Volunteers for the Defense of the Territory (VDP), a group the government funds and trains to contain Islamist insurgents, was ambushed Thursday as it swept through a remote area of ​​Loroum province, the authorities announced on Saturday.

It is one of the heaviest day-long casualties the civilian militia has suffered to date and came a month after an attack on a gendarmerie post killed 53 people – the worst has been striking against the Burkinabè security forces for years.

“In this painful circumstance and in tribute to the valiant VDP and to the civilians fallen in defense of the homeland, the president of Burkina Faso decrees a period of national mourning of 48 hours, starting on Sunday”, declared the spokesperson of the Alkassoum Maiga government in a press release.

Authorities have faced repeated protests in recent months over their perceived failure to stem a four-year Islamist insurgency that has left thousands dead in the Sahel region of Africa and forced more than a million people to flee their home.

Militants linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State inflicted heavy losses on the region’s armies, killing soldiers in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali almost every week in scattered attacks.

The Burkinabé army said around 100 militants were killed earlier this month in a joint offensive involving hundreds of soldiers from Burkina Faso and Niger, who also seized firearms, improvised explosive devices and hundreds of motorcycles.

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