Africa needs tools for fighting terror: Burkina president

7th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore told AFP Thursday that international cooperation and aid were crucial to fighting terror, but African countries need the tools to combat the scourge on their own.

Speaking in Paris where he had talks with President Francois Hollande earlier this week, Kabore said west African security forces need training and equipment and "it is important for allied countries like France and the United States to be able to help us."

But, he added: "We hope our special forces will be able to ensure this security on their own, without needing France to do it for us."

West Africa has been hit especially hard in recent months, with jihadist attacks in Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Mali claiming 69 lives since November.

"We have six borders with neighbouring countries, around 3,000 kilometres (1,800 miles) long. Obviously, these borders are porous," said Kabore, who was elected last November.

"That's why we have to be organised on both the regional and international levels through intelligence-sharing to be able to fight terrorism."

Burkina Faso belongs to the Sahel Group of Five along with Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad, countries where several jihadist groups are active, notably Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

France's Operation Barkhane has at least 3,500 soldiers deployed across five countries in the region to combat the raging jihadist insurgency.

But the presence of special forces from the former colonial master in the Burkina capital Ouagadougou has raised fears that they could put the country at greater risk of attack.

Soon after the March 13 jidahist attacks at a seaside resort in Ivory Coast left 19 people dead, the security ministers of Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal and Burkina Faso met in the Ivorian business capital Abidjan.

"This first meeting created the basis for much more sustained cooperation between our security services and our intelligence services," Kabore said. "It's an important step."

Thirty people were killed, including many foreigners, on January 15 in an attack on a top Burkina Faso hotel and a nearby restaurant in Ouagadougou.

Mali's capital Bamako saw an attack on November 20 in which gunmen took guests and staff hostage at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in a siege that left at least 20 dead.

AQIM said after the March 13 attack in Ivory Coast that it was one of a series of operations "targeting dens of espionage and conspiracies".

It warned France and its allies that nations involved in Operation Barkhane and the 2013 French-led Operation Serval in Mali would "receive a response", with their "criminal leaders" and interests targeted, according to the SITE group that monitors extremist groups.

© 2016 AFP

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