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Militants in Burkina Faso Kill 35 Civilians in Attack on Town

Burkina Faso's President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, seen in this Nov. 19, 2019 file photo, has declared two days of national mourning.

Officials in Burkina Faso say soldiers killed 80 Islamic militants who launched simultaneous attacks on a military post and the northern town of Arbinda Tuesday.

The militants killed at least 35 civilians, mostly women, before they were beaten back. Seven soldiers were also killed.

Arbinda Burkina Faso
Arbinda Burkina Faso

President Roch Marc Kabore has declared two days of national mourning. His government calls the militants cowards.

Burkinabe forces used fighter jets against the Islamists during the fight near the border with Mali, lasting several hours.

Islamic militants in Mali, under pressure from French forces, have spilled across the border into Burkina Faso, killing hundreds of people and sending thousands fleeing from their homes. The militants frequently use hit-and-run attacks on motorcycles.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports the Trump administration is considering a complete pullout of U.S. forces from West Africa as part of a global reshuffling of American troops across the globe.

"We've begin a review process where I'm looking at every theater, understanding what the requirements are that we set out for, making sure we're as efficient as possible with our forces," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said earlier this month.

Between six and 7,000 U.S. forces are currently in Africa. Several hundred of them are in such West African nations as Niger, Chad, and Mali to assist French forces in training West African security forces in confronting Boko Haram and the various al-Qaida terrorist group spinoffs.

According to the Times, Esper is questioning whether such missions are worth it, believing these militant groups generally lack the ability or strength to attack U.S. forces, despite the 2017 ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers.

The New York Times says Esper has given the U.S. Africa Command until next month to come up with a withdrawal plan.

The Pentagon has not yet commented on the newspaper report.