Cote d’Ivoire seeks regional response to jihadist threat

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Cote d’Ivoire is beefing up military deployment on its northern border and seeking stronger security ties with its neighbours as it casts a worried eye on the increasing violence in the region.

The West African state lies to the south of Mali and Burkina Faso, which are struggling with a years-long insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Over the past two years, militants have carried out several bloody cross-border attacks in Cote d’Ivoire, including a raid in Kafolo in the northeast in June 2020 that killed 14 troops.

Kafolo lies close to the Comoe National Park near the Burkina border — a vast forest of 11,000 square kilometers (4,250 square miles) used as a bolthole by jihadists, many of whom are linked to Al-Qaeda, security sources say.

In Tengrela, a town farther west near the border with Mali, the army has set up a special forces base, and convoys of trucks are a daily sight.

“We are glad to see the special forces among us — we know that we are safe,” said Zie Coulibaly, a local driver.

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