Sun, Mar 04, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Dozens dead in attacks on Burkina


Smoke rises after a suspected terrorist attack in Ouagadougou on Friday.

Photo: EPA

Dozens of people were killed on Friday in twin attacks on the French embassy in Burkina Faso and the nation’s military headquarters, an assault that coincided with a meeting of regional anti-militant forces.

The apparently coordinated attacks underlined the struggle that the fragile West African nation, a diplomatic ally of Taiwan, faces in containing a bloody and growing jihadist insurgency.

The government said the attack on the military was a suicide car bombing and that a planned meeting of the G5 Sahel regional anti-terrorism force might have been the target.

Officials from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger were at the meeting, representing the G5 Sahel nations that have launched a joint military force to combat extremists on the southern rim of the Sahara.

Eight members of the armed forces were killed by the blast and the parallel attack on the French embassy, while 80 were wounded, Burkinabe Minister of the Civil Service, Labor and Social Security Clement Sawadogo said, adding that eight attackers had been shot dead.

“The vehicle was packed with explosives” and caused “huge damage,” Sawadogo said.

Three security sources said that at least 28 people were killed in the attack on the military headquarters alone.

French government sources said there were no French casualties and described the situation in Ouagadougou as “under control.”

“Our country was once again the target of dark forces,” Burkinabe President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said in a statement.

The violence began mid-morning when heavy gunfire broke out in the center of the Burkinabe capital.

Witnesses said five armed men got out of a car and opened fire on passersby before heading toward the French embassy.

At the same time, the bomb went off near the headquarters of the Burkinabe armed forces and the French cultural center, other witnesses said.

The G5 meeting was supposed to have been held at the headquarters, but had been moved to another room, Sawadogo said.

The G5 Sahel’s completed force are to be composed of 5,000 troops and aims to be fully operational by the end of the month.

Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou, the current chair of the group, said the attacks “will only strengthen the resolve of the G5-Sahel and its allies in the fight against terrorism.”

French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian said damage to the embassy was minor, and the mission would be able to resume normal operations “in two or three days.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Burkinabe Minister of Information Remis Fulgence Dandjinou said the attack “has strong overtones of terrorism.”

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