Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso – Soldiers rescued a group of 62 women and four babies abducted by suspected jihadis last week in northern Burkina Faso, state television and a security source said Friday.
The news came just hours after security sources said a series of attacks on Thursday had left around 30 people dead in the volatile West African nation that has been battling an insurgency since 2015.
The abduction of the women and babies last week prompted alarm from the United Nations, while the country’s military junta warned of a rise in jihadi attacks on civilians.
In its main evening news bulletin, Burkina Faso’s RTB channel, referring to an army operation, showed images of the women freed on Friday and brought to the capital, Ouagadougou.
Several security sources confirmed the news to AFP.
The women and babies were abducted last week on Thursday and Friday near Arbinda, in the northern Sahel region, as they foraged for food outside their village.
Security sources said they were found in the Tougouri region, 200 kilometers further south. Helicopters flew them to Ouagadougou, where they were met by senior army officers.
‘Their debriefing will allow us to know more about their abductors, their detention and their convoy,’ one security source said.
The authorities had mobilized search teams on the ground and in the air to trace the women.
Parts of Burkina Faso, including the Sahel region, have for months been under a blockade by jihadi groups in the region, making it increasingly difficult to supply the communities there.
The resulting shortages forced local people to leave the safety of their villages to search for food.
News of the women’s return came as security sources reported four attacks by suspected jihadist attacks Thursday, killing 30 people, including 16 members of a civilian auxiliary supporting the army.