Burkina Faso, Mali join forces against Islamic militants

To combat Islamic militants in West Africa, Burkina Faso and Mali have agreed to share intelligence and conduct joint security patrols. The decision to cooperate follows two deadly and well-coordinated attacks in the region.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, the prime ministers of both countries met on January 17, two days after al-Qaeda militants seized the Splendid Hotel in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou. The militants opened fire on a restaurant and attacked another hotel nearby, killing at least 28 people from at least seven countries, and wounding 50 other people.

The assault, claimed by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), follows a similar raid in November on a luxury hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako which killed 20 people, including citizens of Russia, China and the United States.

“There is a very strong political will on the part of the two states to combine our efforts to fight terrorism,” said Burkina Faso’s Prime Minister Paul KabaThieba.

In related news, Al Jazeera noted that Burkina Faso’s president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, said everyone must unite in the fight against “terrorism”. He also announced on the national broadcaster, Burkina 24, that security forces would be stepping up their efforts to thwart future attacks and asked people to comply with the new restrictions.

“These truly barbaric criminal acts carried out against innocent people, claimed by the criminal organisation al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), seek to destabilise our country and its republican institutions, and to undermine efforts to build a democratic, quiet and prosperous nation,” said Kabore.

The attack by al-Qaeda, which began on January 15, was the first of its kind in Burkina Faso. The toll includes six Canadians, seven citizens of Burkina Faso, two Ukrainians, two Swiss, two French and one each from the US, Holland, Portugal and Libya, and one French-Ukrainian, according to Burkina Faso officials who released a partial list, according to the Associated Press.

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