Burkina Faso’s Kompienga Province was an early victim of the infiltration of Idrissa Dicko’s (“Mouslimou”) Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), where the group established a foothold in the (gold) mining sector and a shared populist message of its intentions to retake resources.
Since the end of 2021 and throughout 2022, this province has seen a more increased intensity of violence. Kompienga Province has engaged in a campaign of expansion into four directions that is still ongoing (see figure 3 and 4).
The first target was southwards towards Nadiagou village, a strategic location at the intersection of the Fada N’Gourma and Tanguieta road, between Burkina Faso and Benin and the Pognoa and Arly Park axis, which connects Burkina Faso and Niger. The attacks started on November 18, 2021 and a week later JNIM successfully took control. Since early 2022, JNIM has increasingly strengthened its grip on Nadiagou and has started to target villages close to this base in order to extend its influence. This has allowed JNIM to freely move its fighters from Kompienga to Tapoa Province and thereby gain full control of the Beninese border. From there, the objective is to assert authority from Fada to Diapaga (the main city of Tapoa).
Around the same time, the group also expanded northwards towards Fada, the capital of the East Region and the place where political power is concentrated. This was initially done through road checks on the Nadiagou-Fada road. A few months later, in June and July 2022, JNIM expanded its activities with direct attacks on Pama, a larger city and the capital of the province. By the end of July 2022, JNIM started to empty villages around Kompienga demonstrating the clear dominance of the group.
JNIM activity in Atacora, Centre-Est, Est, and Savanes region (October 2021 – May 2022)
ACLED, Supplemental data
The Kompienga base also expanded westwards to the Centre-East Region of Burkina Faso. The Centre-East region has been an area of influence for JNIM-affiliated militants since 2018. The first half of 2019 in particular saw a spate of violence but then, for about two and a half years, only sporadic, low-profile activity was reported in the border area in the far east of the region, known as the Transhumance Corridor.
However, in the second half of 2021 the situation began to change dramatically. Initially dismissed as “banditry”, the region saw a resurgence of JNIM activities with attacks on police posts, mining facilities, vandalism and acts of sabotage against schools and telecommunications antennas, and preaching in villages and towns. In addition, JNIM fighters launched a violent campaign against the Koglweogo in the region, who had been integrated into the Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland (VDP). Many VDP fled to Ghana.
Burkinabe forces responded to renewed JNIM activity with a series of ground and air operations that did not last. Activity continued to increase when JNIM fighters and Burkinabe government forces began fighting for control of the small town of Nadiagou in Kompienga Province near the border with Benin in November 2021.
Finally, the Kompienga group began to expand southwards into Togo (and Benin). In May 2022, it attacked an army outpost in Kpenkankandi which was used to send Togolese troops into Burkinabe villages. Two months later, JNIM launched a massive attack on multiple Togolese villages. In total, 28 civilians were executed, most of them Togolese informants. As in Benin, JNIM subsequently used IEDs on the roads leading to those villages and it engaged in occasional attacks against Togolese military outposts.
Although Tapoa Province is sometimes viewed as a franchise composed of various subgroups and commanders, there seems to be an unusually high degree of connection between the activities of Kompienga and Tapoa Provinces. Military activities are highly coordinated, as seen in the joint blockade of Fada-N’Gourma, the capital of the East Region, and in the emptying of villages around their bases in July. This is also clear in the movement of fighters. In April, less activity was reported in Tapoa Province while JNIM concentrated on keeping the road between Nadiagou-Kompienga and Tombaga-Tapoa open and on removing the last military bases of the Burkinabe military and VDPs.
JNIM activity in Atacora, Centre-Est, Est, and Savanes region (June – September 2022)
ACLED, Supplemental data
JNIM has increased its control of the main axes in Tapoa, both of Fada to Kantchari and of that around Diapaga, including over secondary roads that became more or less blocked. This was done by symbolic actions in villages such as the burning down of schools or town halls, as well as intensified roadblocks. Again, the most indicative sign of the control that JNIM has gained in Tapoa is demonstrated by the decision to start emptying certain villages in late July.
de Bruijne, K. (2021). Under the Microscope: Inside the Attacks on Porga and Keremou. The Clingendael Institute. link.
Burkinabe security forces escaped through Togo (as the road leading straight to Fada-Ngourma was too dangerous).
For example, on January 12, 2022, it carried out a carefully planned ambush on the police station in the neighbouring village of Tindangou. On February 15, the JNIM attacked another neighbouring village, Tibadi. On February 20, 2022, the electricity line between Pama and Nadiagou was sabotaged.
Such a checkpoint was established between Pama and Kompiembiga, a blockade of the latter village being organized. A checkpoint was also established between Fada and Pama at Natiaboani. Moreover, mobile checkpoints started on the Natiaboani-Ponio road between Tambibongou and Bossoari. JNIM used these controls to accentuate its hold on this area. For instance, in Tambibongou the village telecommunications antenna was burned down. In March, these road checks continued, with a checkpoint between Pama and Fada at Kantambari village and another on the Nadiagou-Ponio road at the village of Ponio-Sankoado. JNIM increased its grip on the Ponio-Nadiagou axis with attacks on the 31st of March, torching the school at Pognoa-Sankoado and the destruction of another telecommunications antenna in the village of Tambibongou.
On the 4th of June at Nadiagou, an Imam was kidnapped. On the 5th of June, JNIM organized a massive ambush against VDPs between Tagou and Nagare. Around ten VDPs were killed. On the 11th of June, JNIM carried out another successful ambush against soldiers and VDPs at Pama, the provincial capital. The next day, the pressure increased on Pama with mortar attacks on the city. On the 5th of July, the VDPs’ position at Nagare was again under attack. At the end of July, respectively between the 26th and the 29th, an antenna was destroyed at Natiaboani and a school was burned down at Pognoa-Tikonti.
The inhabitants of villages at Bossoari and Mardeni, located between Pognoa-Sankoado and Nadiagou, were ordered to leave.
Numerous subsequent attacks show that the threat for Togo is destined to persist. On July 15, 2022, a Togolese FDS vehicle detonated a landmine while trying to reach a village attacked the day before. Between July 16 and 17, 14 VEOs on 7 motorcycles travelled to Daloga, a disputed village between Togo and Benin, to seek out informants for the army whom they did not find. The departure of the civilian population was demanded. More than 400 people have since left the village. On the night of July 19 to 20, armed persons passed through the village of Donga a few kilometers south of Mandouri centre, on the border with Benin. They would have been successfully repelled by the army had it been present. On the night of July 27 to 28, an army vehicle detonated an IED while trying to reach the village of Kpemboli on the border with Burkina. One soldier was killed and 9 were injured, some of them seriously. That same night, a clash took place in Kpenkankandi, another village bordering Burkina, between the FDS and violent extremists. The details are unknown but the confrontation would have been to the advantage of the violent extremists according to the local population. On July 30, two civilians in this village were abducted on suspicion of giving information to the police. On August 10, 2022, two children on a cart detonated an IED near Tiwoli. On August 16, 2022, between Blamonga and Koundjoaré on the border with Burkina Faso, two violent extremists were killed when their own IED exploded. On August 22, 2022, an IED exploded when a Togolese FDS vehicle passed over it. An exchange of fire followed. The outcome of the confrontation is unknown at this point in time.
Both are attempting to control the closest villages to Fada. On the 15th and 19th of February 2022 they marked their territory by burning down two schools respectively in the villages of Boyemlagou and Kikideni. On the 20th February, JNIM ordered a large-scale attack on a VDP position in the village of Nagare. On the 6th of March 2022, JNIM attacked the village of Tagou close to Nagare. On the 18th of March 2022, JNIM again attacked VDPs in Nagare. A large-scale ambush of a military detachment by JNIM occurred on the 20th of March 2022 on the Fada-Pama road. According to official Burkinabe records, 13 soldiers were killed, the JNIM announced the deaths of 24 soldiers.
The first reported incident comes on April 14 when JNIM decided to reduce the usual movements made by the inhabitants of Madjoari and Tambarga. As a result, the first inhabitants began to leave these villages. In May, the JNIM accelerated its actions. On the 14th of May, VDPs were ambushed in this zone. On the 19th, the military position in Tambarga was attacked. About 20 individuals were killed in these two attacks. On the 25th of May, at least 50 civilians were killed while attempting to escape from Madjoari.
This has been happening for instance on the secondary road leading to Bonkongou since March.
At Namounou, on the 16th of January, JNIM ambushed local police officers and on the 16th of February, the village townhall, school and police station were set on fire. At Logobou (January 22) the townhall was torched. In the larger village of Tambaga and its surrounding villages (Namponsiga, Kogoli, Diegbala and Fanfangou) between the 28th of February and the 5th of March, numerous attacks occurred. At Bantoini, on the 21st of February 2022, a telecommunications antenna was burned down. On January the 28th, JNIM destroyed a telecommunications antenna at Namoungou. JNIM also burned down a Catholic church and a school at Bougui on the 10th and 16th of February. At Namponsiga, on the 2nd of March 2022, a bar and a telecommunications antenna were set on fire. At Fanfangou, a school was burned down. This series of attacks demonstrates JNIM’s intentions concerning Tapoa Province.
This mainly concerns Tandri, close to Kantchari, as well as Partiaga and Nadiabondi close to Diapaga.