A soldier was killed in an attack in northeastern Ivory Coast near the border with jihadist-hit Burkina Faso, the military said Tuesday.
“Armed individuals” late Monday attacked the village of Tougbo in the district of Bouna, the armed forces headquarters said in a statement.
An Ivorian soldier died of his wounds, it said, citing a provisional toll.
“A pre-deployed detachment of the armed forces responded immediately and repelled the enemy,” the statement said. “There were no civilian casualties.“
Troops were carrying out a sweep of the area with the help of reinforcements, it said.
The attack, the fourth this year, follows warnings from security experts that the Sahel’s bloody jihadist insurgency could spread southwards to countries on the Gulf of Guinea.
On March 29, dozens of suspected Islamists killed three members of the Ivorian security forces in a twin attack on border with Burkina.
Three “terrorists” were killed and four were arrested, the army said.
On April 12, a gendarmerie vehicle traveling in the same area was hit by an improvised explosive device, but without suffering any casualties, in the first known IED attack on Ivorian soil.
And on April 21, armed men attacked a military base near Ivory Coast’s economic hub Abidjan, wounding a soldier.
Three assailants were killed and a fourth injured and a dozen people were arrested, according to state media.
Ivory Coast was first hit in a jihadist attack in March 2016, when 19 people died in a raid on Grand-Bassam, a seaside resort near Abidjan.
In June 2020, 14 soldiers were killed in an attack at Kafolo that was blamed on jihadists.
Sahel expansion fears
Several attacks have been thwarted thanks to tip-offs shared among the French, Malian, Burkinabe and Ivorian intelligence services, according to Ivorian and French security sources.
The insurgency in the Sahel sprang up in northern Mali in 2012 before advancing into Niger and Burkina Faso in 2015.
Burkina Faso is reeling from its bloodiest attack to date.
At least 132 people died – 160, according to local sources — when armed men on motorbikes overnight Friday attacked the village of Solhan, near the border with Mali and Niger.
More than 3,300 people, most of them children, have since fled the area, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday.
Experts have long worried about a southwards expansion of the insurgency to the coastal countries on the Gulf of Guinea.
In a rare public comment, the head of French foreign intelligence, Bernard Emie, said in February that al-Qaeda’s Sahel branch was targeting Ivory Coast and Benin.
The latest attack came ahead of the inauguration on Thursday of the International Academy for Fighting Terrorism, or AILCT in its French initials.
The school, based at Jacqueville near Abidjan, will give specialized training in anti-terrorism for security officials in vulnerable West African countries.
France is among the countries funding the institution.