About 30 people were killed and 85 wounded in terrorist attacks on the French embassy and cultural centre in Burkina Faso and the west African country’s army headquarters on Friday.
Most of the dead were Burkina Faso soldiers, killed as they defended the targets in the capital, Ouagadougou, supported by French forces. There were no French casualties, security sources in Paris said.
It was not immediately clear how many gunmen took part in what are believed to have been coordinated strikes described by Edouard Philippe, the French prime minister, as “a terrorist attack”. At least six assailants are known to have been killed.
The bloodshed began when five of the gunmen jumped out of a pickup truck in the city centre, shouted “Allahu Akhbar” (‘God is greatest’ in Arabic), set fire to the truck and opened fire on passers-by. They then ran towards the French embassy, according to witnesses who saw the attack from the state television offices facing the embassy.
Around the same time, at least one explosion occurred near the army headquarters and the French cultural centre, located about half a mile from the embassy.
Moussa Korbeogo, a market trader, told the AP news agency that gunmen also arrived there in a pickup and started shooting at soldiers. “Some of the soldiers ran into a nearby bank to seek shelter. Several were killed outside and inside the premises,” he said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. A 2016 attack in the city was claimed by al-Qaeda which said it was a reprisal for Burkina Faso’s participation in a regional military campaign against Islamists. Thirty people including six Canadians and five Europeans were killed in a subsequent attack on a Ouagadougou restaurant last year.
France, the former colonial power, has deployed 4,000 troops to fight jihadists in the impoverished Sahel region on the southern rim of the Sahara alongside soldiers from Burkina Faso and four other west African countries. The UN also has a 12,000-strong peacekeeping force based in neighbouring Mali.
The Islamist insurgency has claimed thousands of lives and forced tens of thousands of people to flee from their homes.
Burkina Faso is notoriously unstable and its long-serving president was ousted in an uprising in 2014.
A video was released on Friday of a 75-year-old French woman abducted in Mali in 2016 and believed to be held by an al-Qaeda affiliate. Sophie Pétronin, an aid worker, appeared to be in poor health.
Speaking in Nice, Edouard Philippe, the French prime minister, said: “This was a terrorist attack and the French embassy was among the targets.”
SOURCE: The Bloomgist/Telegraph/and Agencies