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Terrorism Threatens a Former Oasis of Stability in West Africa
Burkina Faso managed to avoid the violence that plagued its neighbors, but a combination of poverty, unstable neighbors, and weak security forces has opened the door for extremists.
By James Blake
Burkina Faso’s government resigned on Jan. 18, following a series of terrorist attacks. President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, who has led the country since 2015, announced a new prime minister, Christophe Joseph Marie Dabiré, three days later. But the attacks have continued: On Jan. 28, terrorists killed four soldiers and injured five others on the border with Mali, the day after terrorists killed 10 civilians.
Since December, several high-profile terrorist incidents have taken place in Burkina Faso, including the kidnapping and killing of a Canadian mining worker and the kidnapping of two humanitarian staff. This terrorist activity is taking place at the same time as a growing humanitarian emergency in the country, with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimating that 1.2 million people require humanitarian assistance. If the international community and aid agencies do not act now, terrorism could spread to other countries across West Africa, destabilizing the region.