Burkina Faso PM rules out talks, deal with militants with 40 killed
Burkina Faso's Prime Minister says negotiations are not an option, either over the country's "territorial integrity or its sovereignty."
After officials reported that around 40 were killed in a fresh wave of violence in Burkina Faso, the country's Prime Minister ruled out negotiations with militants who are in control of swathes of the country.
"We will never negotiate, either over Burkina Faso's territorial integrity or its sovereignty," Apollinaire Kyelem de Tambela told parliament, adding that the government aimed to double the volunteers for the VDP civil defense militia to 100,000.
"The only negotiations that matter with these armed bandits are those taking place on the battlefield," de Tambela said to the Transitional Legislative Assembly.
In the same context, the Prime Minister told the representatives that "we cannot organise elections without security. If you have a magic wand to ensure we can hold elections as soon as possible, we'd do it."
"If we organised elections now, while part of our territory is inaccessible, they'll say that whoever is elected has been wrongly elected," he pointed out.
Such comments came soon before regional officials talked about Saturday's targeting of an armed convoy, near Bourasso close to the Malian border, and another local source saying that the majority of victims were VDP members.
"The attack caused the death of around 20 people, mainly VDP," the source who asked to be anonymous said.
The attack on the convoy had been confirmed, according to a security source, which added that air support called in afterward had "neutralized" around 30 insurgents.
The same source said some 20 people were killed on Sunday in the same region when suspected militants attacked Ouakara, a village around 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Bourasso.
The toll could rise, a resident told the AFP.
"Many people have left the village for Nouna or Dedougou, because the terrorists gave them a 72-hour deadline to leave the village," the resident said.
'Whatever the cost'
Burkina Faso has been held in a death grip by a violent insurgency since 2015, and France had exploited this to maintain a military presence in the country.
Sending troops in 2013 under the pretext of fighting terrorists in the Sahel region, France's security operation proved to be a failure in light of the proliferation of terrorism. The operation ended in February following the deterioration of France's ties with its ex-colony.
Earlier today, de Tambela said that "thanks to our efforts," more than 20,000 households, representing more than 125,000 people, "have returned to their regions," without providing any more details.
"We will defend our territory and our populations whatever the cost," he declared.