Seven soldiers dead following ambush by Islamist militants in Burkina Faso

Seven soldiers in Burkina Faso were killed on Wednesday in an ambush by suspected Islamist militants, two sources said, close to a week before a presidential election.

Worsening insecurity in the West African country is the main issue in the November 22 vote, when President Roch Marc Kabore is seeking a second term.

In recent years, militant groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State have killed hundreds of soldiers and civilians and stoked ethnic conflict, part of a wider security crisis across West Africa’s Sahel region.

A security source and a local official, both speaking on condition of anonymity, said seven soldiers were killed in the ambush in the northern Oudalan province, near the borders with Mali and Niger.

The security source said about 10 of the assailants were killed in the ensuing battle. The army had no immediate comment.

Kabore, who faces 12 challengers on the ballot, has promised to restore security to a country that had long been a relative island of stability in a turbulent region.

The militant groups have grown stronger and extended their influence despite the presence of thousands of French and other international troops across the Sahel.

According to the United Nations, over 1 million people in Burkina Faso are displaced, more than one in every 20 inhabitants.

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