BURKINA FASO (Country risk rating: High); 15 January (Red24)

Australian nationals kidnapped in Baraboule

Two Australian nationals were kidnapped by suspected Islamist militants in the town of Baraboule, located in Burkina Faso’s northern Soum province, on 15 January. Local authorities initially stated that the victims, who were aid workers, were Austrian, but later corrected this to Australian. Details surrounding the abduction are unknown. There is a medium threat of kidnapping in Burkina Faso. As this incident demonstrates, the threat is most acute in the northern border regions of the country, and stems from groups operating along the country’s borders with Mali. These groups, which include al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and its affiliates, have demonstrated both the intent and operational capacity to conduct attacks targeting both locals and foreign interests in Burkina Faso’s border areas. Additionally, aid workers are often viewed as high-value targets by these groups. This is due, in part, to the fact that such individuals can be used to extort significant ransom payments from their respective organisations.

Advice: Clients are advised against all non-essential travel within 100km of Burkina Faso’s borders with Mali, in the Sahel region, which includes Baraboule, as well as the Boucle du Mouhoun and Nord regions, due to the elevated risks of kidnapping, terrorism and general insecurity. Persons operating in the aforementioned areas are advised to implement robust security measures at all times and should review and update all travel, residential and personal security measures and evacuation procedures.