Burkina Faso unrest: Dozens of kidnapped women freedon January 21, 2023 at 9:50 am

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Last week’s mass kidnapping in an area hit by a militant Islamist insurgency was unprecedented.

Women with their backs to the cameraImage source, Reuters

Security forces in Burkina Faso have rescued 66 women and children after they were kidnapped by suspected militant jihadists in the north of the country last week, state TV reports.

In an unprecedented mass kidnapping, the victims were seized while gathering food in an area hit by an insurgency.

They were found on a bus at a security checkpoint some 200km (125 miles) south of where they were taken, reports say.

It is not clear if their captors have also been detained.

On Friday night, state TV showed pictures of the children and women, some with babies on their backs, boarding a bus at an airport after being addressed by a military officer.

“They have found freedom after eight long days in the hands of their kidnappers,” the reporter says.

They are now in the capital, Ouagadougou, where they are expected to be questioned to find out “more about their abductors, their detention and their convoy”, a security source told the AFP news agency.

The women and children were kidnapped in two groups on 12 and 13 January in the district of Arbinda.

Roads in and out of the area have been blocked by militant jihadists. There is severe hunger as food supplies are limited, and the humanitarian situation is desperate.

Last month, protesters in Arbinda broke into warehouses to get food and supplies.

Burkina Faso as a whole has been hit by a decade-long insurgency that has displaced nearly two million people.

The military took power last January, promising an end to attacks. A different group of officers mounted a second coup in September over a failure to end the insurgency but the violence has continued.

Map of Burkina Faso showing Ouagadougou and Arbinda
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