At least fifty-three members of Burkina Faso's security forces have been killed in an attack by suspected jihadists in the north of the country, that has been condemned by the West African bloc, Ecowas.
In a statement released Tuesday, the Burkinabé army reported that seventeen soldiers and 36 civilian volunteers for the army died on Monday while repelling an unspecified "attack."
The unit had reportedly been deployed in the town of Koumbri in northern Yatenga province to help the resettlement of residents forced out of the area by jihadists more than two years ago.
A further 30 members of the security forces were also injured.
The security forces maintain that several attackers had been "neutralised" in a counter-operation and their combat equipment destroyed.
Operations are still under way in the area, according to the military.
Ecowas condemns jihadist attack
Burkina Faso saw two military coups last year, triggered – as in neighbouring Mali and Niger – by anger at failures to stem a jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.
The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) condemned the attack.
In a statement, the regional bloc said it had learned "with shock" about the death of the soldiers and civilian volunteers, condemning the "terrorist attacks" expressing "solidarity with the Burkinabe people".
This comes as Burkina Faso was suspended from Ecowas after the military seized power.
More than 5,000 have died since the start of this year.
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