French embassy targeted in terror attack in Burkina Faso

by Wade Massey March 3, 2018, 5:00
French embassy targeted in terror attack in Burkina Faso

Communications minister Remy Danjuinou confirmed that Islamic extremists attacked both the French Embassy and the Burkina Faso army headquarters in Ouagadougou.

Five emergency centres have been set up in Ouagadougou to treat the high number of casualties in the former French colony.

Speaking to state TV channel RTB, Information Minister Remis Fulgance Dandjinou said the attack had "strong overtones of terrorism". There was no claim of responsibility. Workers fled offices near the site of the violence, and helicopters were seen above the embassy.

France's foreign affairs ministry published a message on their website warning of gunfire in the capital, and said that security forces are now intervening and enhanced security measures could be taken by authorities.

Witnesses said five armed men got out of a auto and opened fire on passersby before heading towards the embassy, in the center of the city. They also set fire to the truck, the witnesses added.

The assailants there also arrived in a pickup and starting shooting at soldiers, said Moussa Korbeogo, a trader at a nearby market.

The US Embassy urged people to seek shelter.

The defence minister said three assailants were killed at the army headquarters.

Sawadogo said a meeting of the G5 Sahel regional counter-terrorism force was supposed to have been held at the headquarters but had been moved to another room.

No French citizen was killed or injured, suggesting the attackers were not able to penetrate perimeter security around the embassy.

The landlocked nation of Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world. This is the third major attack in Ouagadougou in the past two years.

Local security sources put a still-incomplete death toll at about 15 while other sources reached by AFP from Paris sketched an even bloodier outcome, with at least 28 people killed in the second assault alone.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for an attack on a restaurant and hotel in Ouagadougou in January 2016 in which 30 people were killed.

The latest attack, which appears to be the boldest yet, comes against a backdrop of smaller incidents around the country that have targeted the security forces, and schools and teachers as part of the militants' campaign for an education system based on the Qur'an.

At least five people were killed and two attackers "neutralized" there, he said.

Gunfire and explosions resounded for hours but subsided by midday.

Souro Sanou, an official at the hospital in the capital, said several people have been wounded.

French news agency AFP reports that the situation is under control at the embassy.

"Our country was once again the target of dark forces", President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said in a statement.

Explosions and heavy gunfire rocked Ouagadougou this morning, with pictures of the scene showing "a large cloud of black smoke in the downtown area" above the army headquarters and the French embassy, Al Jazeera reports.

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