Unidentified gunmen kill at least 14 members of government-backed civilian militia near the northern town of Titao, officials say.

Burkina Faso's poorly equipped security forces have struggled against highly mobile insurgents.
Burkina Faso's poorly equipped security forces have struggled against highly mobile insurgents. (Reuters Archive)

Unidentified gunmen have ambushed and killed at least 14 members of a government-backed civilian militia in Burkina Faso, officials said, the latest in a wave of violence.

Thursday's attack came a day after President Roch Kabore sacked his prime minister and replaced the head of the army as he faced street protests over his handling of a security crisis that has killed thousands and displaced more than a million.

The gunmen attacked the militia about 10 km from the northern town of Titao where they were heading to reinforce other civilian fighters, the government said in a statement.

The 14 killed were members of Burkina Faso's Homeland Defence Volunteers, which receives funds and training from the government to help contain an insurgency.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the ambush. 

But attacks by insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Daesh have been mounting in Burkina Faso and in neighbouring Mali and Niger.

Country faces formidable foe 

The country's poorly equipped security forces have struggled against a ruthless and highly mobile foe.

Discontent rose after a string of massacres this year.

The peak of the deadly violence came on November 14 when 57 people, 53 of them gendarmes, were killed in the country's north.

Two weeks before they were attacked, the gendarmes had warned headquarters that they were running short of supplies and were having to trap animals to eat.

Signalling an impending reshuffle, President Kabore said on Thursday it was time for "a tighter, closer team" in government.

Other voices in Burkina have cautioned against taking a purely militaristic line for tackling the insurgency.

Source: Reuters