Unidentified gunmen killed 20 civilians in an attack on a village in Bani municipality (Séno province) on Saturday night (local time), February 1. The attack notably preceded France announcing on Sunday, February 2, that it would deploy 600 additional soldiers to the Sahel region to combat violence from Islamist extremist groups as part of Operation Barkhane, bringing the total number of French soldiers deployed in the region to over 5000.
Despite the increased French troop presence, similar attacks are to be expected in northern Burkina Faso over the near term.
Burkina Faso declared a state of emergency for the country's border regions on January 1, 2019, remaining in effect until January 12, 2021.
Terrorism has become an increasingly severe security threat in Burkina Faso since 2015. Educational institutions, local government officials, and security forces are specifically targeted. Initially concentrated in the Sahel region, attacks have spread to other regions, including eastern Burkina Faso (Est region) which is also known for high crime rates. Attacks are usually attributed to Ansarul Islam and other groups affiliated with Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Individuals in Burkina Faso are advised to monitor developments relating to the security situation, obey local regulations (e.g. state-of-emergency orders), and remain vigilant for criminal and militant activity.
Due to severe threats of terrorism and kidnapping, individuals present in Burkina Faso - including the capital Ouagadougou - are strongly advised to be discreet regarding personal details, particularly information concerning nationality, employment, family, etc. Individuals are also advised to avoid public events and places frequented by Westerners, to remain vigilant at all times, and to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities.