Four West African states mount operation against Islamist insurgents


OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Togo have carried out a joint military operation to counter increased attacks by Islamist insurgent groups in parts of West Africa, Burkinabe Security Minister Maxime Kone said on Tuesday.

Over 5,700 troops were deployed in the borderlands between Burkina Faso and the other three countries under a security cooperation deal the countries agreed in 2017 to prevent jihadist violence spreading from the Sahel region.

The five-day operation led to the arrest of over 300 suspects and the seizure of weapons, ammunition, vehicles, drugs and a large amount of material to make improvised bombs, Kone told a news conference.

Groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have expanded their reach in the Sahel region in recent years, destabilising Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. They have made occasional incursions south, including into Ivory Coast and Togo.

The Burkina Faso government is facing a public outcry over its perceived inability to stop the militants, who in November carried out the most devastating attack on local security forces in recent years.

(Reporting by Thiam Ndiaga, Writing by Alessandra Prentice, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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