OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) - Islamic extremists opened fire on the French Embassy and army headquarters in Burkina Faso’s capital Friday, killing at least seven soldiers, while eight of the militants were slain, a government official said.
More than 90 people were wounded in the violence in the former French colony in West Africa, and many feared the death toll would rise. The attacks marked the third time in about two years that the capital, Ouagadougou, has come under coordinated assaults by jihadists.
Gunfire and explosions resounded for hours but subsided by midday. Workers fled offices near the site of the violence, and helicopters were seen above the embassy.
The landlocked nation of Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world. It shares a northern border with Mali, which has long battled Islamic extremists.
The French Embassy came under attack around 10:15 a.m. Friday. Witnesses at the nearby state TV offices told The Associated Press that the attackers had arrived in a pickup truck, shouted, “Allahu akhbar!” and began shooting.
No one inside the embassy was harmed, but a gendarme and the four attackers were killed, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in televised remarks. In the other attack across town, there were “numerous victims” at the national army headquarters, he said.
Five emergency centers were set up in hospitals, a military barracks and at a stadium in Ouagadougou to treat the casualties, said Col. Amade Kafando, director general of Burkina Faso’s army health unit.