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Several dead, dozens missing after the attack on a convoy in Burkina Faso

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Eleven soldiers have been found dead and around 50 civilians are missing after Islamist militants attacked a 150-vehicle convoy supplying a town in northern Burkina Faso on Monday, the government said on Tuesday.

Twenty-eight people were injured in offensive, including 20 soldiers, said the press release from government spokesman Lionel Bilgo. The army had indicated in a previous press release that dozens of trucks had been destroyed.

The attack took place in the commune of Gaskinde, in the province of Soum, where jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have multiplied attacks and taken the territory since 2015.

Militants blockaded several areas, so government convoys and airdrops delivered essential goods to trapped civilians.

The convoy, which was under military escort, was carrying supplies to the town of Djibo, just over 20 km (12 miles) from Gaskinde.

Video shared online showed people rushing to retrieve goods from at least a dozen burning trucks and a plume of smoke spreading across the scrubland.

Another video showed crowds welcoming vehicles from the convoy that had survived the attack and made it to Djibo.

Reuters was unable to verify the images.

Separately, suspected militants burned down the mayor’s office and abducted a person in the town of Boni on Monday evening, two residents and a military source said.

Boni sits on the N1 highway linking the capital Ouagadougou to the southwestern city of Bobo-Dioulasso, and is much further south than most militant activity has taken place. It is about 16 km (10 miles) from Hounde, where there are gold mines.

Insecurity has increased across the West African Sahel over the past decade as an Islamist insurgency that took root in Mali has spread. Thousands of people have been killed and more than two million displaced despite the presence of foreign troops and United Nations peacekeepers.

Insurgents mined roads, besieged towns, destroyed water supply facilities and undermined efforts to resupply Burkina Faso’s increasingly isolated north and east.

At least 35 civilians were killed on September 6 when a vehicle in a convoy hit a roadside bomb between the northern towns of Djibo and Bourzanga.

Frustrations over spiraling violence have spurred an army cut versus Burkina Fasoformer President Roch Kaboré in January. But the ruling military junta has also struggled to thwart the attacks.

(Reuters)