Twenty-eight people have died in new attacks by suspected jihadists in Burkina Faso, including 15 who had been abducted at the weekend, the authorities said on Tuesday. Armed men, on Sunday, had in Linguekoro stopped two minibuses conveying 24 people travelling from Banfora. The minibuses were torched and the 15 people were taken away, regional governor Colonel Jean-Charles Some said. Separately, ten military police officers, two members of an auxiliary force supporting the army, and a civilian died in northern Burkina Faso from a “terrorist attack on Monday” in the locality of Falangoutou, the army said. An AFP toll from official statements and security sources says at least 77 people have died since the year started.

While it remains unclear what armed group is responsible for the Linguekoro incident, Burkina Faso’s security situation is now eclipsing Mali’s in the race for the bottom. Thomas Hobbes’s observation that life outside the ambits of civilisation was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” achieves stirring levels of currency in many parts of the Sahel. A day’s drive from Linguekoro is Sabon Birni in Nigeria’s northwestern state of Sokoto. There, in December 2021, bandits burnt ten commuters, including locals and a Nigerien national, who were on their way to Gadan Gayan in Kaduna.

These two communities are united in a shared horror perpetuated by armed groups who have lost all sense of humanity. Within the Sahel, the sheer brutality in which the terrorists conduct their operations is only aided by retreating state capacity and their security agencies’ inability to rout the armed groups. Through a mix of several factors that include an unprecedented inflow of small arms and light weapons, mostly ungoverned spaces blighted by economic deprivation and the refusal of many locals to act as human intelligence sources for fear of reprisals, regional governments are firmly on the back foot.

How the Burkinabe army has responded to the security crisis is a study of how regional security operates amid growing geopolitical tensions between East and West. As more juntas kicked out the French and associated Western influences and in turn, replaced them with a less burdensome Russia through its Wagner proxies, expectations perked up that on-the-ground outcomes would improve. Despite some initial success, the situation has not changed and as such, with each passing attack, Ouagadougou risks losing its legitimacy, one that is mostly built on a mutual but eroding anti-French consensus between the citizens and the regime.