The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional bloc, has sharply condemned the terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso that left 23 people dead, including three of the jihadists, and at least 30 injured.
Officials say security officers rescued 126 hostages at the Splendid Hotel where the attack took place.
The local al-Qaida affiliate known as AQIM claimed responsibility as the attack was ongoing, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activity.
Haruna Warkani, a spokesman for ECOWAS, says the group’s officials are monitoring the situation after expressing condolences to President Roch Marc Christian Kabore and the people of Burkina Faso over what he described as a dastardly act of terrorism on a member country.
He says ECOWAS will continue to assist the government in Ouagadougou following the attacks.
“This is an act that is always condemnable by ECOWAS because, by our statutes, we do not accept any acts of terrorism,” said Warkani. “ Terrorism is no longer a national issue of any country, it is a regional and global issue, which ECOWAS has always said we intend to attack such globally... .ECOWAS is doing everything possible to make sure it’s mitigated anywhere in the region.”
“To the people of Burkina Faso, ECOWAS truly stands by them and they should be assured that at all times ECOWAS will be available there to assist... For who lost their lives we offer unreserved sympathy, and for those who have been injured we wish them a speedy recovery,” said Warkani.
Warkani said ECOWAS will soon unveil a bolstered security strategy as part of efforts by regional heads of states and governments to combat terrorism.
He says attacks by the Nigerian-based Islamists militant group Boko Haram, which often carry out cross border attacks in the region, would also be confronted following the joint partnership between Nigeria and its neighbors to combat and defeat the terrorist group.
This as the regional group recently encouraged member states to strengthen their security cooperation as well as intelligence sharing in a bid to thwart attacks from militant groups.
Warkani expressed concerns about the difficulty in managing insurgency because the extremists, he says, often strike unannounced at soft targets and when people least expect them, with an aim to create chaos, fear and undermine security.
“The member states have been sufficiently galvanized to look at this as a regional problem rather than national and that is why you could see in the case of Boko Haram, for instance, ECOWAS has rallied round Nigeria to ensure that all neighboring countries cooperate very well to ensure some restrictions in movement and the rest of it. Similarly, when the Mali [attacks] occurred, ECOWAS has taken steps to ensure that these things don’t keep repeating themselves,” said Warkani.
“You cannot predict [terrorist attacks] adequately and accurately at all times. But otherwise, ECOWAS stands to not only condemn this, but also take every step necessary to ensure that it doesn’t repeat itself.