Simultaneous Attacks Hit Burkina Faso, a Growing Target of Al Qaeda

Burkina Faso Attacks on local army HQ and French embassy kill at least 7

A jihadist group allied to al-Qaeda on Saturday claimed responsibility for a deadly co-ordinated assault on the French embassy in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadoudou, and the country's military headquarters, condemned by the prime minister as a "cowardly" terrorist attack.

The Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has expressed the AU's solidarity with the people and the government of Burkina Faso in these hard circumstances, according to a statement from the pan-African bloc, Xinhua reported.

The ministry condoled with families of the victims and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

On Friday, March 2, in the capital of Burkina Faso Ouagadougou was committed an armed attack on the French Embassy and the General staff of the armed forces.

Authorities say 133 people have been killed in 80 attacks, as the under-equipped security forces battle to assert themselves.

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 government said eight soldiers were killed, as well as eight assailants - four at the embassy and four at military headquarters.

Witnesses said five men armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles got out of a vehicle and opened fire on passersby before heading towards the French embassy.

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Ouagadougou Mayor Armand Béouindé told France's Le Monde newspaper that the attackers shot at the town hall and his office windows were shattered.

"I saw people with sacks on their backs attack the guard". They also set fire to the truck, the witnesses added.

The violence, which the government called a terrorist attack, marked a further deterioration in the former French colony's perilous security situation. "When we went up [to the roof] we heard gunshots from an automatic weapon, [it was] very intense".

In a simultaneous attack, the French embassy was also targeted.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for an attack on a restaurant and hotel in Ouagadougou in January 2016 in which 30 people were killed.

The U.S. Embassy also warned Americans to stay out of the city center.

The US embassy in the city has advised people to seek shelter.

The trial for dozens of the alleged perpetrators began earlier this week but was suspended after defence lawyers walked out in protest against the military court.

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