Seventeen soldiers and 36 volunteers assisting the military were killed during an “attack” in Koumbri commune in Yatenga province on Monday, the army said in a statement on Tuesday.
Burkina Faso has been battling armed groups, some with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State, in its desert north since 2015.
Short on troops and supplies, Burkina Faso’s authorities have turned increasingly to volunteer defense forces to help. These armed civilians, who help police the rural north, are frequently caught up in deadly assaults.
The latest fighting in Burkina Faso took place on Monday in Yatenga province, where the army has been trying to reconquer territory to allow displaced villagers to return home, the statement said. Operations were still under way in the area.
Burkina Faso saw two military coups last year, triggered in part by insecurity. After the second one in October, Burkina Faso ordered French forces to leave amid growing tension between the junta and Paris.
Countries such as Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria are all currently experiencing civil wars, resulting in significant casualties and displacement.