Burkina Faso extends state of emergency in north by six months after attack

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - Burkina Faso’s parliament voted on Friday to extend a state of emergency by six months in several northern provinces where attacks by Islamist militants have surged in recent months, including one on Thursday that killed 12 people.

The government said the latest attack was carried out by three dozen jihadists on the town of Gasseliki in Soum province near the Malian border.

Two Gasseliki residents told Reuters that the men opened fire and set fire to shops in town.

Burkina Faso imposed the state of emergency on Dec. 31 after militants killed 10 gendarmes in a single attack.

Security has deteriorated in Burkina as jihadists - including many based in Mali - seek to increase their influence across the poorly policed scrublands of the Sahel region just south of the Sahara Desert.

An attack last week set off a bout of ethnic violence that killed dozens of civilians, raising fears the militants are looking to replicate a tactic they have employed in Mali to bolster their support among certain communities.

Reporting by Thiam Ndiaga; Writing by Juliette Jabkhiro; Editing by Aaron Ross