A Spanish priest and at least four customs officers were killed in an attack by alleged Islamist militants in Boulgou province on Friday, February 15. According to reports released on February 16, approximately 20 gunmen carried out an attack on a customs station in Nohao (located near Bittou commune on Route 16 in southeast Burkina Faso), killing the customs agents and priest, before fleeing the area. The 72-year-old priest was reportedly traveling from Cinkassé (Togo) en route to Ouagadougou at the time of the attack.
Terrorism has become an increasingly severe security threat in Burkina Faso since 2015. Educational institutions, local government officials, and security forces are specifically targeted. Initially concentrated in the Sahel region in the north of the country, activity has since spread to other regions. Attacks are most frequently attributed to Ansarul Islam and other groups affiliated with Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). On January 1, 2019, the government declared a state of emergency for the country's border regions, to be in effect for six months.
Individuals in Burkina Faso are advised to monitor developments to the security situation and applicable regulations (e.g. state of emergency orders) and remain vigilant for criminal and militant activity. Due to the severe threats of terrorism and kidnapping, individuals present in Burkina Faso - including the capital Ouagadougou - are strongly advised to be discreet regarding personal details, particularly information concerning nationality, employment, family, etc. Individuals are also advised to avoid public events and places frequented by Westerners, to remain vigilant at all times, and to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities.
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