Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Burkina Faso, including the capital Ouagadougou. Burkina Faso contributes to the UN peacekeeping initiative in Mali (MINUSMA) and is therefore considered a legitimate target by Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M) and its associated groups. On 18 September 2018, armed, masked men purporting to be members of AQ-M posted an online video announcing their presence in Burkina Faso.
There have been regular attacks on police, military personnel and civilians, particularly close to the borders with Mali, Niger and Cote d’Ivoire and in the Eastern Region. On 15 September 2018, 2 terrorist attacks in the far east of Burkina Faso killed at least 9 civilians. On 28 August 2018, 7 members of the security forces were killed after their vehicle struck a roadside bomb near Fada N’Gourma. On 11 August 2018, 4 gendarmes and a civilian were killed when their vehicle struck a mine about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Fada N’Gourma. Further attacks are possible and could occur without warning. You should be vigilant, monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities.
There have also been attacks in the capital, Ouagadougou. In March 2018, an attack took place on the French Embassy and the Army Headquarters. 16 people were killed, including 8 attackers, and 80 people injured. In May 2018, Burkinabe security forces engaged the suspected attackers in the Rayongo district, on the outskirts of the capital. Three suspected terrorists were killed, and 5 gendarmes and 1 civilian wounded. Weapons and bomb-making materials were found at the scene.
In August 2017, gunmen attacked the Aziz Istanbul restaurant in Ouagadougou. 19 people were killed, including 9 foreigners. A terrorist attack took place at a hotel and restaurant in central Ouagadougou in January 2016 in which 30 people were killed, including a number of foreigners. Further attacks are possible. You should exercise particular caution around religious holidays.
There remains a continuing high threat of kidnap in Burkina Faso and the wider Sahel region. On 15 January 2019, a Canadian citizen was kidnapped near Gayeri in the Est region and found dead near the Niger border 2 days later. In mid-December 2018, a Canadian and Italian went missing in southwest Burkina Faso and this case is being treated as a kidnap. In September 2018, 2 foreign nationals were kidnapped in the far north by an armed group. In January 2016, 2 western nationals were abducted in the northern town of Djibo near the border with Mali, one of whom has since been released. A number of hostages kidnapped in Burkina Faso are still being held by terrorist groups.
This threat is likely to continue as groups remain intent on demonstrating capability and increasing influence across the region. In March 2017, AQ-M Sahel, Ansar al-Dine and al-Murabitun merged into the new group ‘Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen’, demonstrating their continued intent to conduct attacks and kidnaps across the region. There is a good chance that AQ-affiliate JNIM will continue to target foreign nationals. See our Sahel page for information on the regional threat.
Those engaged in tourism, humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release. Security precautions do not mitigate the threat. You should maintain a high level of vigilance at all times. Further kidnaps are likely.
The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.
There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.