A strange and terrible sound echoed across the badlands of swirling grit and desert scrub — the roar of a cadre of militants on motorcycles, more than a dozen of them. The growl of their engines was punctuated by the stuttering blasts of the riders’ Kalashnikovs. This was how they always arrived. There were no government troops around, no police officers, no one to stop them.
Ami Bande was in the market in Nagraogo, a village in north-central Burkina Faso, when she heard the first gunshots. Speeding toward her were about 15 motorbikes, each carrying two men who had come to kill. Bande, who was 23, sprinted for home, arriving at the same time as one of the “motos.” The jihadist riding on the back yelled, “Stop!” As the bike skidded to a halt, he began firing his rifle. Two men were shot dead in front of Bande. After that, she ran from her town.
A total of 32 civilians, including Bande’s brother-in-law, were slain in Nagraogo on Jan. 20. Another four were killed in a nearby village, five miles away. Soldiers weren’t there to protect them and only showed up days later in Barsalogho, where Bande and other survivors had fled, to escort them home to bury the corpses, she and other survivors said.
Despite massive U.S. funding for security in Burkina Faso — one of the largest recipients of U.S. security aid in West Africa — rampant terrorist violence has rewritten what was supposed to be an American foreign-policy success story.