OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Heavily armed Islamic extremists forced their way into schools in northern Burkina Faso this week, ordering teachers to stop instructing in French and instead focus only on Islam and the Quran, the country's security minister said Friday.
The government of this former French colony deployed soldiers to Baraboule commune, where the incidents occurred, and surrounding areas near the border with Mali, Simon Compaore told journalists. He declined to say how many.
"There can be no question of obeying injunctions of people who are without faith or law and who know only one thing: to sow death and desolation," Compaore said.
There were no reported casualties in the incidents at the schools, but Moumouni Tamboura, a primary school teacher in the nearby town of Djibo, said teachers were too scared to work in the current "atmosphere of terror."
Last month, extremists killed 12 soldiers in an attack on an army barracks in the northern town of Nassoumbou, 260 kilometers (160 miles) from Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou.
That attack was claimed by Ibrahim Dicko, a radical preacher whose fighters are believed to be based in Mali.
Jihadists continue to stage attacks in northern and central Mali four years after the French military led an intervention to drive them out.
In a report circulated earlier this month, U.N Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said growing insecurity in border areas between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, together with the impact of drug trafficking on peace efforts, demonstrated the need for regional cooperation to tackle security threats.
The presidents of those three countries met in Niger this week to discuss security cooperation.