The unit that came under fire had been sent to relieve a detachment from Natiaboani.

Burkina Faso has been battling militants, some with links to Al Qaeda and Daesh, since 2015.
Burkina Faso has been battling militants, some with links to Al Qaeda and Daesh, since 2015. (AFP Archive)

Militants killed 15 Burkinabe soldiers and volunteer militiamen as they returned from a supply mission in eastern Burkina Faso, the army has said.

A further four soldiers were wounded in the attack in Gourma province, while 11 are still missing, it said in Sunday's statement.

"Reinforcements have been deployed to secure the zone and carry out a search," a source told AFP news agency.

The unit that came under fire had been sent to relieve a detachment from Natiaboani.

The army added it killed 18 "terrorists" in mopping-up operations. 

Dozens of truck drivers are still missing.

The authorities also launched a drive to recruit 50,000 civilian defence volunteers to back up the army as the number of attacks increases.

READ MORE: 'Terrorist attack' kills many soldiers, wounds dozens in Burkina Faso

Turmoil

Burkina Faso has been battling militants, some with links to Al Qaeda and Daesh, since 2015.

That assault helped trigger the latest coup in Burkina just four days later, led by young army captain Ibrahim Traore.

He became interim president on October 21, vowing to win back territory from militants.

It was Burkina's second coup in eight months, driven by a seven-year insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and driven nearly two million people from their homes.

The new government on Wednesday declared securing the Sahel state's territory would be the top priority.

More than a third of the national territory remains outside government control.

A UN envoy warned this week that 4.9 million people, or a fifth of Burkina's population, need urgent aid as many "mothers were forced to feed their children with leaves and salt".

READ MORE: Soldiers, civilian auxiliaries killed in Burkina Faso 'militant ambush'

Source: TRTWorld and agencies