Updated: Jul 8, 2020
Soldiers from Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso conducted their first joint operation against jihadists active near their shared border, killing eight suspected militants and arresting 14 others, Ivory Coast’s army declared on Sunday.
Burkina Faso and its neighbours Mali and Niger in West Africa’s semi-arid Sahel zone are battling Islamist insurgencies with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State.
Those terrorist groups have been strengthening and expanding their range of operations, leaving coastal countries like Ivory Coast fearful the violence will spill onto their territories.
The joint operation was specifically launched on May 11 with about 1,000 Ivorian soldiers participating from their side of the 580-kilometre (360-mile) border with Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast’s army announced in a statement.
The suspected militants were shot to death in Burkina Faso, the army said, adding that the operation is still ongoing.
Jihadist attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have escalated dramatically over the past year, despite the significant military support from former colonial ruler France.
While Ivory Coast has mostly been spared the violence affecting its neighbours, the country was the victim in 2016 of a deadly attack claimed by al Qaeda in which gunmen killed 19 people at a beach resort.