Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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August 2023


Burkina Faso

Amid countrywide insecurity, military authorities engaged in diplomatic spat with Paris over stance on Niger coup, and intensified crackdown on dissent.

Insecurity remained elevated, with heavy toll on civilians. Military operations against jihadist groups continued. Notably, airstrike 2 Aug allegedly killed around ten al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants in Bourou village, Soum province, Sahel region. Meanwhile in Hauts-Bassins region, presumed JNIM combatants 1 Aug killed around seven army auxiliaries (VDPs) and lost ten of their own militants in attack on Niamana village, Kenedougou province. Civilians remained caught between jihadists on one hand and govt forces and their civilian auxiliaries on the other. Notably, presumed JNIM fighters 6 Aug killed around 22 civilians and wounded another ten near Nohao village, Boulgou province, Centre-East region.

Ouagadougou continued to draw further away from erstwhile allies. French govt 6 Aug announced suspending French development and budgetary aid to Burkina Faso after country expressed support for coup leaders in Niger (see Niger). In response, Ouagadougou next day denounced double taxation treaty with France. After Niger 6 Aug closed its airspace, French flag carrier Air France next day suspended all flights to and from Ouagadougou (and Bamako) citing “geopolitical situation in the Sahel”. Meanwhile, interim President Capt. Traoré 31 Aug reportedly discussed possible military cooperation with Russian delegation in capital Ouagadougou.

Clampdown on dissent intensified. Coalition of around 50 political parties and civil society groups, Patriotic Front, 4 Aug denounced “abuses” and non-inclusive governance by military authorities; statement came days after alleged state agents briefly kidnapped former MP Issouf Nikièma and court sentenced civil society activist Mohamed Sinon to prison for criticising gendarmerie. Authorities 10 Aug suspended prominent media outlet Radio Omega over accusations of promoting “strategy of chaos” in Niger after station broadcast interview with civil society activist opposing coup.

In other important developments. Videos purporting to show gunshots near air base in Ouagadougou 1 Aug circulated on social media, prompting Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Col.-Maj. Célestin Simporé to denounce presence of “suspicious” individuals around base; days earlier, latter had denied rumours circulating on social media of mutinous feelings in certain military barracks.

July 2023


Burkina Faso

All-military approach to jihadist insurgency led to large numbers of casualties among army auxiliaries and local communities; pro-regime groups voiced support for new constitution.

Civilians continued to bear the brunt of spreading violence. Conflict actors continued to target civilians suspected of collusion with opposing side. Notably, presumed al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) combatants 1 July killed 11 civilians near Partiaga town, Tapoa province, and unidentified jihadists 5 July killed 15 civilians in Sorgha town, Gnagna province (both East region). Soldiers and army auxiliaries (VDPs) 8 July killed around 12 ethnic Fulani passengers on bus near Dedougou city, Mouhoun province, Boucle du Mouhoun region. Military 8-9 July also reported killing around 90 jihadist militants near Partiaga (Tapoa) and Ougarou town (Gnagna) (both East region) and near Sofikel town, Seno province (Sahel region). Several attacks led to heavy casualties on govt’s side, particularly among VDPs. Notably, JNIM 7 July killed around 16 VDPs and two civilians, while losing ten of their own, in Kogossablogo village, Namentenga province (Centre-North region).

Demonstrators rallied in favour of new Constitution. Amid rumours that transitional authorities are looking to adopt new constitution and delay elections scheduled for July 2024, thousands 1 July demonstrated in capital Ouagadougou to demand constitutional revision; gathering also reported same day also in second-largest city Bobo-Dioulasso.

In other important developments. West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS 9 July held summit in Guinea-Bissau, regretted Ouagadougou and other West African transitional regimes’ “very limited” cooperation with ECOWAS mediators; also reiterated call on transitional authorities to restore constitutional order and voiced concern over humanitarian situation of people displaced from “front line countries”, including Burkina Faso, to neighbouring coastal states. Ouagadougou and Bamako 31 July warned military intervention against coup leaders in Niger would be considered “declaration of war” against them (see Niger).

June 2023


Burkina Faso

Amid heavy fighting between security forces and jihadist militants, abuses against civilians continued as transitional govt pursued all-military approach to insecurity.

Jihadists inflicted heavy losses on security forces. Govt forces and civilian army auxiliaries (VDPs) late May conducted wide-ranging operations against al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) and Islamic State Sahel Province in North region’s Yatenga province, Boucle du Mouhoun region’s Nayala province, and Centre-West region’s Sanguié province. In Centre-East region, suspected jihadists 5 June killed 14 VDPs and four soldiers in Sawengua area, Boulgou province, reportedly prompting airborne counter-attack. In Centre-North region, unidentified jihadists 26 June ambushed supply convoy in Namsiguia village, Bam province, killing at least 31 soldiers and three VDPs, while govt claimed to have killed around 40 assailants; jihadists same day reportedly killed 33 VDPs in Noaka village, Sanmatenga province, with VDPs claiming to have killed 50 jihadists.

State-sponsored militias conducted multiple abuses against civilians. In Centre-East region, suspected VDPs 3 June abducted 19 Fulani civilians from bus near Yargatenga commune, Koulpélogo province, and soldiers and VDPs 6 June killed traditional chief and two other people they accused of collaborating with JNIM in Sawengua village, Boulgou province. In East region, VDPs 10 June abducted at least four people from medical centre in Kompienga province before killing them.

Transitional President Capt. Traoré conducted partial cabinet reshuffle. Traoré 25 June proceeded to partial reshuffle of govt, with departure of four ministers, including those in charge of security and justice; other key ministries including defence, finance and foreign affairs did not change hands.

Govt took further steps to re-align away from traditional Western partners. Traoré 12 June received delegation from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) alliance of major emerging economies. FM Olivia Ragnaghnewendé Rouamba next day signed memorandum of understanding with BRICS delegation, defining priority areas of cooperation, largely related to development. Meanwhile, transitional govt 18 June congratulated Malian authorities on decision to revoke consent for UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA), lauding step as “conforming to the strategic vision of the Malian state” and “affirmation of sovereignty” (see Mali).

May 2023


Burkina Faso

Amid rampant violence, civic space continued to shrink as transitional military govt further mobilised society against jihadists, while hinting at election delay.

Rampant jihadist violence continued to affect most regions. Spate of suspected jihadist attacks in Boucle du Mouhoun region (west) took heavy toll on civilians, killing at least 53 in Mouhoun province 11 and 28 May; another 13 in Kossi province 14 May; and 14 in Banwa province 19 May. Also in Boucle du Mouhoun, suspected jihadists 27 May attacked armoured convoy in Bourasso department (Kossi province), with around 20 dead, most of them army auxiliaries (VDPs). In North region, suspected jihadists 18 May attacked several villages in Yatenga province, killing 12 VDPs and 16 civilians; 31 May ambushed food convoy escorted by troops in Loroum province, killing two civilians while army reportedly shot 50 assailants dead. In East region’s Kompienga province, presumed jihadists 21 May killed 15 civilians on outskirts of provincial capital Kompienga; army reportedly retaliated, killing dozens. In Centre-East region, suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 15 and 17 May killed around 20 civilians in Koulpélogo province.

Security forces continued counter-insurgency operations. Army and VDPs 18 May launched assault on presumed JNIM positions in Gnagna forest (Gnagna province, East region), killing around 30 militants; same day raided other JNIM positions near Bittou town (Boulgou province, Centre-East region), killing over 20.

Authorities ramped up repression of dissent and adopted national security law. Security forces 5-11 May arrested four members of civil society on various charges. Transitional legislature 9 May adopted new national security law further formalising govt’s strategy of mobilising society in struggle against jihadists; law notably provides for private security companies to support govt forces. In address to transitional legislature, interim PM Apollinaire Kyelem de Tambela 30 May ruled out negotiations with jihadists, and suggested security situation could delay country’s return to civilian rule beyond July 2024. As late-April killing of at least 146 civilians by suspected army elements in Karma village (North region) sparked international condemnation, interim President Capt. Traoré 4 May denounced actions of “coalition against Burkina Faso”.

April 2023


Burkina Faso

Amid sustained fighting between govt forces and jihadist groups countrywide, both sides conducted large-scale massacres of civilians, while govt continued to restrict fundamental freedoms as part of total war strategy.

Govt forces and jihadists carried out massacres of civilians. In North region, suspected soldiers around 20 April raided Karma and nearby villages in Yatenga province, reportedly killing at least 136 civilians. Both govt forces and jihadists launched suspected retaliatory attacks on civilians in Sahel region’s Séno province: military 4-6 April allegedly killed seven civilians in Dori town; and suspected Islamic State Sahel Province combatants overnight 6-7 April stormed Kourakou and Tondobi villages, leaving 31 and 13 civilians dead, respectively.

Fighting between govt forces and jihadists continued. As part of more offensive approach against jihadists, military in March-April reportedly conducted major operation against al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) positions notably in Sahel, North, Centre-North and Boucle du Mouhoun regions, with unclear results. Meanwhile in North region, JNIM combatants 15 April attacked military detachment and civilian auxiliaries (VDPs) near Aorema village, close to Ouahigouya town in Yatenga province, reportedly leaving at least eight soldiers and 32 VDPs dead; govt reported 50 assailants also killed. In Centre-East region, JNIM 10 April ambushed security forces near Zambanega village, Boulgou province; eight soldiers, three VDPs and ten militants reportedly killed. In East region, suspected jihadists 27 April killed 33 soldiers in attack on military detachment near Ouagarou town in Gnagna province, reportedly losing 40 of their own.

Authorities continued to restrict civic space as part of total war on jihadists. Among other measures aimed at boosting country’s military capabilities, interim president, Capt. Traoré, 7 April announced new civilian “watch and development committees” at local level, reportedly responsible for alerting authorities about any suspicious movements and acting for development of their communities; 13 April declared “general mobilisation”, giving authorities wide legal latitude to restrict rights and freedoms if deemed necessary to combat insecurity. Meanwhile, authorities 1 April expelled Burkina Faso correspondents for French newspapers Le Monde and Libération; move came after Libération confirmed video showing men executing children in military barracks as authentic.

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