Wednesday, 25 April, 2018

Gunmen attack French embassy and military headquarters in Burkina Faso

Alec Baldwin speaks onstage during the We Stand United NYC Rally outside Trump International Hotel & Tower Explosions, gunfire rock Burkina Faso's capital
Melody Ballard | 04 March, 2018, 01:47

Islamic extremists opened fire on the French Embassy and army headquarters in separate attacks in Burkina Faso's capital Friday, killing at least seven soldiers, while eight of the militants were slain, a government official said.

Witnesses have reported seeing armed men getting out of a auto and opening fire, according to AFP news agency.

French President Emmanuel Macron's office says he is following the situation and French authorities are urging French citizens to avoid the city center.

On January 15 2016, 30 people, including six Canadians and five Europeans, were killed in an extremists attack on a hotel and restaurant in the city centre.

A message posted on Facebook by the embassy said: "Attack under way at the French embassy and French Institute".

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but previous attacks were conducted by allies of al-Qaeda in reprisal for Burkina Faso's participation in a regional fight against Islamist militants.

A few hours later, the government said it had killed four gunmen involved in the attack.

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Three security sources, two in France and one in West Africa, told AFP in Paris that at least 28 people were killed in the attack on the military headquarters alone.

An attack on the military headquarters strikes at the heart of Burkina Faso's security establishment, while the French embassy is normally one of the safest places in the capital. By midday the gunfire became intermittent and helicopters flew above the French Embassy in Ouagadougou. In response to the new violence in eastern Burkina Faso, troops from Burkina Faso and nearby Mali and Niger have increased patrols.

Macron, who made a high-profile visit to Burkina Faso in November, said the attacks "illustrate once more the threat weighing on the entire Sahel region". Forces backed by the French military have failed to capture Dicko.

France, the former colonial power in the Sahel region, has deployed 4,000 troops and is supporting a five country joint force gathering Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Extremists are thought to be hiding in forested areas in the border region.

With him gone, these trade-offs are bound to dry out, leaving those elements without any serious incentives to stop them becoming the country's destabilization force.

Four of the suspects were killed at the embassy while at least two others were also killed at the military headquarters, Burkina Faso's Information Minister Remis Fulgance Dandjinou confirmed on state TV.

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