Ansaroul Islam has carried out at least 78 attacks in northern Burkina Faso since December 2016, according to a dataset compiled from open-sources by the authors, which provides a picture of the group’s TTPs. The group’s primary targets are civilians and civilian infrastructure. This includes kidnappings, assaults, and assassinations of local elders, mayors, or other prominent civilians across the Sahel region. Administrative buildings, houses, and schools have also been burned down by Ansaroul Islam militants.At least 30 attacks targeted defense and security forces and members of self-defense groups,r which resulted in at least 40 fatalities. IEDs were used in five of these attacks. Ansaroul Islam members also carried out 35 targeted killings, assassination attempts, and abductions that resulted in 45 fatalities. At least 11 of the individuals killed were notables, including village chiefs, local councilmen, imams, and marabouts. Education and government infrastructure was targeted on at least 13 occasions, 12 of these attacks targeted schools. However, the group has threatened civil servants, including teachers, mayors, judges and court officers, on a much larger scale, but were not added to the overall count as these were only threats of violence.Ansaroul Islam has also routinely targeted Burkinabe security forces, including the regular military, police officers, and gendarmerie personnel. A large portion of these assaults have been against fixed positions such as checkpoints and buildings. However, Burkinabe patrols have also been the focus of its attacks.Ansaroul Islam is more than just a terrorist group. It has acted as a self-defense group, protecting communities from whom it enjoys support,46 as well as herders and livestock in a region where banditry, cattle rustling, and intercommunal violence is rife. At the same time, the group itself engages in activities such as localized robberies and cattle rustling.47 The group’s involvement in both terrorist activity and banditry means that it is best described as a hybrid terrorist-criminal group. The group’s second in command and military commander, Oumarou Boly, was himself a highwayman. That said, the group’s terror agendas have so far outweighed its criminal agendas.
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