At least 28 killed in attack on Burkina army HQ

Posted March 04, 2018

The coordinated attacks were carried out on the national army's headquarters and the French Embassy in the capital Ouagadougou.

"Terrorist attack this morning in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso: solidarity with colleagues and Burkinabe friends", Jean-Marc Châtaigner wrote on Twitter, adding to avoid downtown Ouagadougou.

The bloodiest clashes in Ouagadougou were in the assault on the armed forces' headquarters, where five attackers and five members of the security forces died, the official said. He said that the death toll for the soldiers is likely to climb, as many others were seriously wounded.

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.

Witnesses at the state television offices that face the embassy said five attackers arrived in a pickup truck and started shooting after shouting: "Allahu Akhbar".

French military spokesman Colonel Patrick Steiger told AFP said French forces in Burkina Faso "intervened in support" of the local military but "did not directly take part in the action".

The police special forces and army units were deployed to the area. This has not been confirmed.

Attackers in Burkina Faso's capital killed seven people and wounded some 50 others in a coordinated assault on the army headquarters and French embassy that a French ambassador said was a terrorist attack.

Burkina Faso is one of five countries in the Sahel contributing to the so-called G5 force in the region battling extremists.

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Earlier, pictures from the scene showed a cloud of black smoke rising into the sky.

Witnesses said five armed men got out of a auto and opened fire on passersby before heading towards the embassy, in the center of the city.

The mayor of Ouagadougou, Armand Béouindé told France's Le Monde newspaper that the attackers shot at the town hall and his office windows were shattered. He was not able to give further casualty details.

An interim United Nations report seen by AFP warned of a "growing threat" to the Sahel from two groups: the Islamic State in the Great Sahara (ISGS) and Ansar al-Islam.

"So they tried, but they didn't manage it and so they tried to enter from the west side".

French President Emmanuel Macron urged French nationals in the country to follow the embassy's advice and stay away from troubled areas. The Secretary-General strongly condemns the attacks and is concerned over the reported casualties and injuries.

An AFP reporter heard heavy exchanges of gunfire and saw a blazing vehicle, which witnesses said was the auto used by the assailants. Local TV said the PM was safe.

It was the third major attack in Ouagadougou in just over two years. Islamist militants said they carried out the other two.

Le Drian said a crisis center had been set up at the ministry in Paris to monitor the situation.