Six civilians, four of them teachers, were killed in a suspected jihadist attack in southern Burkina Faso close to the border with Ghana, security officials and local sources said on Monday.
Gunmen “opened fire on a group” in the town of Bittou on Sunday, a security source said, adding that the attackers had fled to the nearby forest of Nouhao pursued by security forces.
A regional federation of education unions said four teachers at the local high school, including the head teacher, were among the six fatalities.
Burkina Faso, a poor and landlocked country in the heart of West Africa’s Sahel, is struggling with a jihadist insurgency that is now in its eighth year.
Thousands of civilians, police, and security volunteers have died and some two million people have fled their homes.
Swathes of the country are no longer under government control and turbulence in the military over the crisis has triggered two coups this year.
The 10-year-old jihadist campaign in the Sahel has ignited fears of an advance towards vulnerable countries on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea — Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Ivory Coast.
Bittou, located in Burkina’s Centre-East region, is an important commercial hub straddling a key highway about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the border with Ghana and Togo.