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The release of hostages in Mali “paid dearly” according to the Burkinabe president

What does the president of Burkina mean when he considers that the release last week of several foreign hostages, including the French Sophie Pétronin, and the leader of the opposition in Mali, in return for the release of some 200 jihadist prisoners, was “paid dearly”?

This is the message developed by Roch Marc Christian Kaboré in an interview with France 24 and RFI aired Thursday. The Burkinabé head of state praised the release of the hostages, before affirming that he was “not at all” aware of the negotiations, in particular the release of the suspected brain of the 2016 jihadist attack in Ouagadougou.

“We followed the events like everyone else […] it is Mali which has decided to be able to manage this situation ”, he explains,“ it is a negotiation between the Malian State and the camp of the hostage takers ”.

This “paid dearly” seems to refer to the number of jihadists potentially released in exchange for the four hostages and who could represent a new threat. The daily Liberation has also had the list of prisoners released by Mali in exchange for hostages. Among them, several prisoners accused of having killed Blue Helmets and around thirty others arrested by France.

20 people killed Wednesday in the north of the country

After being reminded by the two journalists who questioned him that recent attacks in recent days in Mali were claimed by the group that held Frenchwoman Sophie Pétronin, the Burkinabe president recalled that attacks perpetrated in the north of his country Wednesday, market day, killed at least 20 people in three different locations.

Roch Marc Christian Kaboré also estimated that the defense and security forces were winning the fight against jihadist groups in Burkina Faso, and that the French army was only intervening for “one-off operations”.

Asked about the abuses against Burkinabé civilians attributed to the police or to volunteer militias helping the army, he notably denied the accusations of Human Rights Watch on the massacre of 180 civilians in Djibo, and justified the employment of auxiliaries. “The army cannot be deployed to 8,000 villages at the same time,” he said.

Bordering Mali and Niger, Burkina Faso has been the scene of regular jihadist attacks since 2015. Hundreds of people have been killed this year in dozens of attacks targeting civilians. Jihadist violence, mixed with inter-community conflicts, killed a total of 4,000 people in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso in 2019, according to the UN.

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