Gunmen Attack French Embassy, Army Headquarters in Burkina Faso

Gunmen Attack French Embassy, Army Headquarters in Burkina FasoGunmen Attack French Embassy, Army Headquarters in Burkina Faso

Armed assailants attacked several targets in Burkina Faso’s capital on Friday, including the army headquarters and the French embassy, in a coordinated assault that France’s ambassador to the West African region called a terrorist attack.

It was the third major attack in Ouagadougou in just over two years. 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 extremist militants, Reuters reported.

A Burkina Faso government statement said four gunmen were “neutralized” at the French embassy, adding that operations were continuing and there was no immediate information on civilian casualties.

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

Witnesses said masked gunmen attacked the downtown army headquarters at around 10 am (1000 GMT).

The explosion rocked the compound, setting the building on fire and sending up a thick column of black smoke.

Panicked residents fled the city center on foot or motorbikes as dozens of Burkina Faso special forces and armored vehicles took up positions in the area.

 “Burkinabe security forces are mobilized against the attackers with the support of security forces at our embassy,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in a statement.

The French targets attacked are symbolic given that French President Emmanuel Macron chose to outline his Africa strategy, including the fight against militants, in November in Ouagadougou.

France’s ambassador to Burkina Faso Xavier Lapeyre de Cabanes confirmed to Reuters that the embassy compound, around two kilometers (1.24 miles) from the army headquarters, also came under attack but gave no further details.



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