Peace Corps Volunteers Leave Burkina Faso on Security Fears

  • U.S. agency says it has evacuated all of its 124 volunteers
  • Militants attacks are on the rise in Mali’s neighbor

The U.S. Peace Corps said it evacuated all of its volunteers from Burkina Faso because of security concerns, as the West African country sees a rise in Islamist militant attacks.

The organization had 124 volunteers in Burkina Faso, who were involved in economic development, education and health projects, according to a statement on its website. The Peace Corps “looks forward to a time when volunteers can return while underscoring that the safety and security of its volunteers are the agency’s top priority,” it said in the Sept. 3 statement.

While the statement didn’t specify the security concerns, there’s been an increase in militant attacks this year. Gunmen who were probably linked to al-Qaeda opened fire on a restaurant in the capital last month, killing 19 people, marking the second assault in the city center in less than two years.

At the same time, a spate of assassinations in villages in the north has sparked fears Burkina Faso is following the path of neighboring Mali, which has been on the brink of collapse since jihadists overran part of the country in 2012. Burkina Faso is among five nations in the semi-arid Sahel region that have pledged to deploy a special force by the end of the year to fight Islamist militants.

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