News24

Troops deploy in northern Burkina Faso

2012-10-11 11:05

Ouagadougou - Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore has ordered 1 000 combat troops to be deployed in the northern region bordering crisis-hit Mali to guard against kidnappings, the foreign minister said Wednesday.

"This deployment is underway and by the end of the year all border posts can be secured and the entire northern region absolutely controlled by defence and security forces," Foreign Minister Djibril Bassole said at a press conference, without specifying the current numbers on the ground.

A complex web of rebel groups, including fighters from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim), has controlled northern Mali since a coup in the country on 22 March threw the country into turmoil.

Aqim has for years carried out kidnappings - mostly of foreigners, including aid workers - in the Sahel.

Bassole said that Burkina Faso is working to "ensure that no abductions can take place" in the country's north where many humanitarian workers are working in refugee camps hosting Malians.

Burkina Faso is the main mediator in Mali's crisis, to which the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) is trying to broker an end.

Bassole said that the country wanted to "speed up the process", adding that he asked Mali's interim president, Dioncounda Traore, on Tuesday to appoint Mali representatives for the negotiations.

Dialogue aside, Ecowas is also working on sending 3 300 regional troops to help Bamako reclaim the occupied north.