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Islamic State, GSIM, al-Qaeda: The jihadist gold rush in Burkina Faso

By Nadoun Coulibaly
Posted on Tuesday, 24 August 2021 17:06

Informal gold miners are seen taking a break from work under the midday sun at an artisanal mining site near Dano, southern Burkina Faso May 5, 2020. Picture taken May 5, 2020. REUTERS/Moussa Bouboucari

For the past five years, terrorist groups have been taking over gold mining sites in areas where the government of Burkina Faso is virtually absent. They are using their control as a means of financing themselves.

More than two months after the attack that took place during the night of 4-5 June, which killed 132 people, Solhan has still not fully recovered. This town of 10,000 inhabitants (including 7,000 gold miners, according to local authorities) – located about 15km from Sebba, the capital of the north-eastern province of Yagha – has become the target for gold smuggling by two rival groups: the Islamic State (IS) and the Groupe de Soutien à l’Islam et aux Musulmans (GSIM, affiliated with Al-Qaeda).

Gold panning is one of the sectors of the economy through which these organisations finance themselves.