An American citizen was shot and killed in Ouagadougou the capital of the West African nation of Burkina Faso, according to the U.S. State Department.
The State Department confirmed the death late Saturday. It added that they are unaware whether the deceased U.S. citizen had any U.S. government affiliation, but declined to give more information out of respect for the privacy of the individual and until the deceased’s family was notified.
The Associated Press (AP) was the first to report on this incident. AP stated that it had spoken with four government and army officials who confirmed that a U.S. citizen was shot Saturday morning outside of the Baba Sy military camp on the outskirts of Ouagadougou. Government officials said that the man was trespassing and ignored a warning shot by soldiers to stop advancing. The soldiers opened fire and the man died from gunshot wounds and was taken to the morgue at Yalgado Ouedraogo University Hospital.
The entire country of Burkina Faso is on edge as presidential and legislative elections are still scheduled for November 22 despite the worsening violence linked to the ongoing jihadist insurgency plaguing the country and the region.
Burkina Faso has been hard hit by the insurgency. Over 2,000 people have been killed and over one million displaced in just the past year. President Roch Marc Christian Kabore is running for re-election to a second five-year term against a dozen opposition candidates. The main issue facing Kabore is that he hasn’t done enough to secure the country and has allowed the jihadists to control larger and larger areas of the country, something he had vowed to stop.
“We will not give up, we will keep fighting until we will have peace and victory on our soil,” he had proclaimed.
One of the primary candidates running against the president is Eddie Komboigo, head of the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP). Komboigo told the press that Burkina Faso was in a “catastrophe” and blamed Kabore for being unwilling to pursue a more diplomatic approach with the jihadists.
“I don’t think that terrorism can be overcome only with weapons but with intelligence, dialogue, and diplomacy. Nowhere in the world was terrorism overcome with weapons,” Komboigo said.
Kabore is expected to be re-elected. Yet, he needs more than 50 percent of the vote to win re-election outright. The different opposition candidates, however, are hoping that they can split the vote. This will deprive the president of an outright win and allow the opposition to form a coalition behind the strongest candidate for the second round of voting. Election results are expected to be announced no later than 72 hours after polls close, according to a representative from the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI).
The U.S. State Department warned American citizens that violence associated with the election can be expected.
Political unrest, demonstrations, and violence in the period during, and following the election may occur. A large number of large political rallies were scheduled in Ouagadougou and around the country in the days before the election. U.S. citizens are encouraged to exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, and election events. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.
Because of the violence related to the jihadist insurgency, large swaths of the country are cut off from government control. This has prevented over 160,000 citizens from being able to register to vote according to CENI. A total of over 400,000 people will be unable to vote (seven percent of the voting population) according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, jihadists from al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are threatening violence on anyone who does vote. Burkina Faso places a permanent ink stain on the thumb of voters, thus many citizens are worried that jihadists in the outlying areas will use that to target voters.