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Jihadists abduct Burkina teacher ‘for speaking French’

Published on April 17, 2018

A schoolteacher was kidnapped last week in northern Burkina Faso, security sources said Tuesday as a jihadist group said he was snatched because he spoke French to his pupils.

Gunmen snatched the teacher on Thursday from a primary school in the northern town of Nassoubou, the security sources and a local official said.

The Islamic State in the Great Sahara (EIGS), based at the border between Burkina Faso and Mali, told AFP that it had carried out the kidnapping.

An EIGS spokesman who gave his name as Hammar said the teacher was abducted for speaking French to his pupils, vowing that “all those who teach in French (will be) fought.”

He also said EIGS was behind the weekend murder of the mayor of the nearby Koutougou department of Soum province, accusing him of collaborating with the government of the former French colony.

Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore condemned the “cowardly and despicable murder” in a tweet.

The EIGS is led by Adnane Abou Walid Sahraoui, formerly of Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQMI).

The troubled Sahel region of the West African country has been the target of numerous jihadist attacks since 2015, including the kidnapping of local officials.

Last month a former municipal councillor was abducted in Lassa village, also in Soum, by gunmen on motorcycles. He was released several days later.

According to official figures, 80 jihadist attacks have occurred in northern Burkina Faso over the past three years, leaving 133 dead.

The capital Ouagadougou has also come under attack, most recently in March when eight soldiers were killed and 85 people wounded in twin attacks on the country’s military headquarters and the French embassy.