Published: Sun, March 04, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Extremists attack French embassy of Burkina Faso

Extremists attack French embassy of Burkina Faso

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

Local residents were left to wonder how their country remained vulnerable to such attacks after a raid in January 2016 claimed by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and another last August by suspected jihadists killed a total of almost 50 people. In Friday's attack the military responded quickly.

It is unclear who is behind the attack but Burkina Faso Information Minister Remis Fulgance Dandjinou told state TV it had "strong overtones of terrorism".

Officials from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger had gathered for a G5 Sahel meeting, an anti-terrorist group created to combat jihadists on the southern rim of the Sahara.

Four attackers and two Burkina Faso security forces died at the embassy.

Prime Minister Paul Kaba Thieba met with the army chief at the army headquarters, where the assault killed at least six soldiers, including a senior officer.

The group, Jama'a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), often uses Alakhbar and other Mauritanian news agencies to claim responsibility for strikes against civilian and military targets across West Africa's Sahel region.

"Burkina Faso was the victim of an attack by terrorist groups", he added.

In a simultaneous attack, the French embassy was also targeted.

The group's formation, also known as JNIM, was announced in a video in March 2017 as a merger of three extremist groups: the al-Qaida-linked al-Mourabitoun, Ansar Dine and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. The attack remains unclaimed.

French forces based in the country have also been deployed.

Five regional countries launched a new taskforce previous year to tackle Islamist militants in the zone, to which worldwide donors have committed a half-billion dollars.

This is the third major attack Ouagadougou has seen in the past two years.

Sawadogo said 80 people were wounded, three seriously, after a vehicle laden with explosives blew up in the army headquarters.

In a televised speech on Saturday, President Roch Kabore urged the public on Saturday to collaborate more closely with the armed forces.

"Nothing, absolutely nothing, can justify such indiscriminate fury against the Burkinabe state, its institutions and the fearless people who love peace, democracy, justice and progress", he said.

Burkina Faso's government said four attackers had been killed at the embassy and at least two at the headquarters.

The French ambassador to Burkina Faso, Xavier Lapeyre de Cabanes, expressed solidarity with Burkina Faso.

"Our two countries were targeted. Several were killed outside and inside the premises", Korbeogo said.

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