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Anger as bodies of slain Burkina police buried

Thirty-six Burkina Faso police officers killed in a jihadist attack were buried on Tuesday in front of an angry crowd of grieving relatives.

Those buried were among 57 people, most of them police, who died after gunmen attacked them near the Mali border in a pre-dawn raid on November 14.

Hundreds of people turned out for the burial service, including family members, military officials and troops, gathering in front of the line of coffins covered by the national flag.

The process of identifying the other victims is ongoing, according to the government.

“Our children died for the country and now they are being buried in a savage manner,” said Adama Zerbo, a relative of one of the victims, deploring the size of the graves, which he said “do not conform to common practice”.

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The victims received posthumous honours and were buried at a municipal cemetery in the capital Ouagadougou.

A police official said no insult was intended against the deceased and that each of the bereaved families had received 200,000 West African CFA Francs ($343) alongside the posthumous honour for their loved one.

But Gouba Yacouba, the elder brother of one of the victims, said it was “not what we are asking for”.

“We are asking to bury our brothers, our sons, our parents with dignity,” he said.

“The children sacrifice themselves for the nation and there is no support, no accompaniment, it hurts. We hope that the authorities will do everything possible to wipe out this scourge of terrorism,” said Issa Santi, another grieving relative.

– Protests –

Following the deadly attack on November 14 there were protests in several cities demanding resignations over the continuing attacks.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore has criticised “substantial dysfunction” in the army, including in food provision.

“It’s unacceptable, and that’s why I really do understand the… angry reactions,” he said days after the attack.

Search operations are still ongoing to find survivors from the November 14 attack, the most deadly on defence and security forces in the country for six years.

Burkina Faso has been hit by jihadist attacks since 2015, mostly in the northern and eastern regions close to Mali and Niger — countries facing their own struggles against jihadists.

Jihadist attacks in Burkina Faso, often coupled with ambushes and attributed to movements affiliated to the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda, have killed more than 2,000 people and forced more than 1.4 million to flee their homes.

At least nine police officers were killed in another attack in northern Burkina Faso over the weekend that also bore the hallmarks of jihadist violence.

The November 14 attack came as the police had been waiting to be relieved for several days and after they had appealed for help, saying they were running short of ammunition and food. AFP