Armed group kills 30 civilians, soldiers in northern Burkina Faso

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - An armed group in northern Burkina Faso killed 30 civilians, army soldiers and pro-government militiamen in a series of attacks near the border with Niger, the defence ministry said on Thursday.

The unidentified assailants struck villages near the town of Markoye around midday on Wednesday and then attacked security forces responding to the raids later that afternoon, the ministry said in a statement.

The victims included 11 civilians, 15 soldiers and four members of a government-backed civilian militia. More than 10 of the attackers were also killed, the statement said, adding the military had regained control of the area.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Attacks by militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State are surging in West Africa's Sahel region, killing thousands and displacing millions in recent years across Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

At least 132 people were killed by insurgents in May in Burkina Faso's worst single attack yet.

(Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Aaron Ross and Mark Heinrich)

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