Burkina Faso: Gunmen blow up bridge on key road connecting capital to north

Burkina Faso: Gunmen blow up bridge on key road connecting capital to north
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A blast hit a bridge on the road connecting the towns of Kaya and Dori in Burkina Faso, causing 'grave damage', a security source said.
A resident in Kaya said trucks that had left his town hoping to reach Dori had had to turn back [OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT/AFP/Getty-file photo]

Gunmen in Burkina Faso have blown up a bridge on a main road connecting the capital, Ouagadougou, to the north of the country, a security source said on Thursday.

The incident in the night of Wednesday to Thursday comes as Burkina Faso battles a deadly jihadist insurgency that has seen extremists block access to several thoroughfares and towns in the north and east of the country.

The blast hit a bridge on the road connecting the towns of Kaya and Dori, the security source said.

"The Nare bridge has suffered grave damage after being blown up by unidentified armed men," the source said.

"A long line of trucks has formed since this morning on either side of the sabotaged structure," he added.

"But everything is being done to ensure they can cross" and security forces have been deployed to the area.

A resident in Kaya, who asked to remain anonymous, said trucks that had left his town hoping to reach Dori had had to turn back.

"Travellers had to cross on foot then get into vehicles on the other side" to continue their journey onwards, he said.

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Jihadists have already succeeded in preventing access to another key axis in the north of the country, running from the town of Ouahigouya eastwards to Dori. A road joining it from Kongoussi to the south is also under their control.

The town of Titao on the first road, as well as the eastern district of Madjoari are also under de-facto jihadist blockade.

Political analyst Drissa Traore said it was all part of a "skillfully orchestrated plan by the terrorist groups".

They want "to isolate communities and scupper attempts to bring these districts supplies on the one hand, and on the other make it difficult for these areas to be evacuated to make way for any military operation" against them, he said.

One of the world's poorest countries, Burkina Faso has been shaken by jihadist raids since 2015, with movements linked to Al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State group.

More than 2,000 people have been killed and 1.8 million displaced.

The authorities in Burkina Faso only control 60 percent of the country, West Africa's mediator for the country said earlier this month.

Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba overthrew elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore in January after unrest over his predecessor's alleged inability to quell the jihadist violence.