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Burkina Faso jihadist clashes kill 14

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Soldiers stand guard in front of the Splendid Hotel after an attack on the hotel and a restaurant in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – Gunmen killed four Burkina Faso soldiers and injured five others near the Malian border, a day after 10 civilians were killed nearby in a separate attack.

Jihadist groups, already a major security headache for neighboring Mali and Niger, have rapidly spread into Burkina Faso’s remote north in the past two months, killing soldiers and civilians in a spate of attacks.

The soldiers killed in Monday’s assault belonged to an anti-terrorism unit operating in the Nassoumbou area in northern Burkina Faso, the army said in a statement.

The same unit lost 12 soldiers in December 2016 in an attack claimed by Ansarul Islam, an al Qaeda-linked insurgent group.

Once seen as one of West Africa’s safest countries, Burkina Faso was forced to impose a six-month state of emergency in its northern provinces from Dec. 31. Security has worsened in recent months.

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