Islamic terrorists attacked the town of Arbinda and its military base in the northern Soum province of Burkina Faso. The attack resulted in the killing of 35 civilians — 31 of them women — who were fetching water at the time of the attack. After several hours of fighting, the military was able to successfully repel the attackers. The fight with the military left 7 soldiers and 80 of the terrorists dead; 20 soldiers were wounded. 

President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré said in a statement, “This barbaric attack resulted in the deaths of 35 civilian victims, most of them women.”  He praised the “heroic action of our soldiers” who fought the terrorists. Two days of national mourning were declared.

The attack began early on Tuesday morning when dozens of armed militants riding on motorcycles entered the town and simultaneously attacked the military base. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but both al-Queda and the Islamic State have been active in the region. 

Communications Minister Remis Dandjinou said, “People, women, for the most part, were getting water and got murdered in cold blood by the terrorists while they were retreating. We must show compassion with the population, that is why all flags will fly at half-mast for two days and all Christmas celebrations are canceled.”

Burkina Faso has a population of about 20 million and is predominantly Muslim, while about 20 percent of the population are Christians. 

Burkina Faso had been relatively free of violence and instability. Then, during the past five years, the violence from neighboring Mali gradually spread into the country.

The attacks from Islamic extremists began in 2012 in Mali. Then the French-led coalition began to initially push them back. The violence then spread to Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Mauritania (these five African countries make up the G5). 

While most of the attacks in Burkina Faso have come from the north border, with Mali, and the east, in 2016 and 2017, Islamic terrorists attacked the capital city of Ouagadougou in spots popular with foreigners.