OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Burkina Faso’s armed forces say soldiers have killed an extremist leader and five supporters in Nahouri Province in an operation to dismantle the group operating in the country’s south-central region.

The statement Friday by the armed forces’ chief of staff said forces also seized a large cache of weapons.

It identified the leader as Abdoul Hadi, who is known to have helped extremist group Ansarul Islam establish a presence in the area.

Extremist groups have been increasing attacks in the West African nation in recent months, forcing nearly a half-million people to flee their homes.