Al'Qaeda claims attack on army hqtrs, French embassy — BURKINA FASO

Al'Qaeda claims attack on army hqtrs, French embassy — BURKINA FASO

Al'Qaeda claims attack on army hqtrs, French embassy — BURKINA FASO

Speaking in Paris, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France was targeted because it is "Burkina Faso's ally in its fight against terrorism".

The embassy attackers were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and were "dressed in civilian clothes" with their faces uncovered, witnessed said.

Gunfire and explosions resounded for hours, subsiding by midday. Workers fled offices near the site of the violence, and helicopters were seen above the embassy.

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world.

French President Emmanuel Macron offered his condolences, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is on a visit to neighbouring Mali, "strongly condemned" the attack while United Nations chief Antonio Guterres called for an "urgent and concerted effort" to improve stability in the Sahel.

Four attackers were shot outside the French embassy and another four at the military headquarters, another security source told AFP. In the other attack across town, there were "numerous victims" at the national army headquarters, he said.

Five emergency centres to treat casualties were set up in hospitals, a military barracks and at a stadium in Ouagadougou, said Col Amade Kafando, director general of Burkina Faso's army health unit.

Across central Ouagadougou to the west, heavy smoke rose from the army joint chief of staff's office, where witnesses reported loud explosions.

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

"Some of the soldiers ran into a nearby bank to seek shelter". The Secretary-General renews his call for an urgent and concerted effort by the global community in support of the countries in the region to tackle, in a holistic manner, the peace and security, development and humanitarian challenges affecting the Sahel, including through the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and the full operationalization of the G5 Sahel Joint Force.

In August, extremists opened fire as patrons dined at a restaurant, killing at least 18 people. In 2016, an attack on a cafe and hotel killed 29 in the city.

An al-Qaida-linked group based in neighboring Mali claimed responsibility Saturday for the dual attacks.

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Burkina Faso has been the target of jihadist attacks since 2015, but they had never previously been carried out with this level of organisation.

The group, a fusion of three Malian jihadist groups with previous al-Qaida links, have been behind several high-profile attacks against civilian and military forces since forming past year.

A SUSPECTED key figure in the deadly Burkina Faso attacks has been arrested, a government source said today.

Among his objectives has been ending the use of French, the former colonizer's language, in regional schools.

According to French military sources, some 20 jihadists were "killed or captured" on that occasion.

But he is not the only threat.

He further added that the attack might has been planned to target a meeting of the G5 Sahel which was underway in the military headquarters. Burkina Faso is one of five countries in the Sahel contributing to the so-called G5 force in the region battling extremists.

The countries' troops join forces where they can.

The others are Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

Longtime President Blaise Compaore was ousted in a popular uprising in late 2014, and a coup was mounted the following year but ultimately failed.

Government spokesman Remi Dandjinou told Reuters on Saturday that arrests had been made in connection with the attacks but it was unclear if he was referring to new arrests or the two that authorities had reported on Friday.

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