Burkina Faso's PM condemns 'revolting' Islamic extremist attacks in capital

Black smoke billows above downtown Ouagadougou. Ahmed Ouoba  AFP

Assailants killed five people and wounded around 50 others during an attack on Burkina Faso's military headquarters in the capital Ouagadougou on Friday, said government spokesman Remi Dandjinou.

The Egyptian people and government stand by the side of Burkina Faso and France in the face of terrorism, the statement said.

Burkina Faso's security forces killed eight militant attackers, and several arrests were made after Friday's simultaneous attacks on the French Embassy and army headquarters.

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

Burkina Faso is among a number of vulnerable countries in the southern Sahara region that are fighting jihadist groups.

Some of the assailants may have managed to flee the attack on the military headquarters, a government source said.

Mahamadou Issoufou, Niger's president and the current chair of the group, said Friday's attacks "will only strengthen the resolve of the G5-Sahel and its allies in the fight against terrorism".

France's defense ministry said French special forces, which have a base in the country, were used to protect French citizens and secure the embassy.

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The government has launched an investigation into the attacks which killed eight soldiers and injured more than 80.

Officials haven't commented yet on the claim of responsibility, but Burkina Faso's minister of communications on Saturday said that the assailants could be members of a "sleeping jihadist cell" that has been in Ouagadougou for some time.

France's ambassador to Burkina Faso Xavier Cabanes confirmed to Reuters that the embassy compound, around two km from the army headquarters, also came under attack but gave no further details.

Witnesses said masked gunmen attacked the downtown army headquarters at around 10 a.m. (1000 GMT). In the previous two attacks killed a total of 49 people, including citizens of Ukraine.

On Aug 13 past year, two assailants opened fire on a restaurant on Ouagadougou's main avenue, killing 19 people and wounding 21.

Burkina Faso has a history of military-backed coups as well as of jihadist attacks.

This has continued to deal harsh "blows" to the economy of some of the poorest people in the world.

Responsibility was claimed by a group called Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). In response to the new violence in eastern Burkina Faso, troops from Burkina Faso and nearby Mali and Niger have increased patrols.

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