By G9ija

Burkina Faso this week launched a drive to recruit 50,000 civilian defence volunteers to help the army fight jihadists, the authorities said.

The country, one of the world’s poorest, has been battling a deadly jihadist insurgency since 2015.

Burkina Faso has been rocked by two coups since the start of the year, with each new leader accusing the previous of having failed to quell the violence.

Captain Ibrahim Traore was the latest to seize power late last month, naming a new transition government on Tuesday evening.

Just before being designated minister of territorial administration, Colonel Boukare Zoungrana announced more civilians would be enlisted to push back the armed groups.

“Recruitment has been launched for 35,000 volunteers for the defence of the nation” from different districts, he said.

Their mission “will be to protect the population and belongings of their districts alongside the security forces,” he added.

The authorities on Monday had already announced it would build a force of 15,000 other volunteers “who could be deployed across the whole of the national territory”.

The so-called “volunteers for the defence of the nation” have legally existed since 2020.

Recruits usually receive training for a fortnight before being handed weapons and means of communication.

Many have been killed in jihadist attacks, especially in the north and east of the country.

Beyond the civilian volunteers, the military is also looking to hire 3,000 more soldiers to boost its ranks.

Jihadists control around 40 percent of Burkino Faso’s territory.

In the latest assault on Monday, at least 10 Burkina Faso soldiers were killed in the northern city of Djibo.