Thick smoke rose from the centre of Ouagadougou as the attacks took place
An armed group on Friday attacked the French embassy in Burkina Faso and the country’s military headquarters, the government said, adding that four assailants had been killed.
The coordinated operation underscored the fragility of the Sahel nation, one of a string of African states struggling with a bloody jihadist insurgency.
Heavy gunfire broke out mid-morning in the centre of the capital Ouagadougou, an AFP reporter heard.
Witnesses said five armed men got out of a car and opened fire on passersby before heading towards the French embassy. The car was later seen ablaze.
At the same time, an explosion occurred near the headquarters of the Burkinabe armed forces and the French cultural centre, which are located about a kilometre (half a mile) from the site of the first attack, other witnesses said.
In a statement, the government said the attack was “aimed at the French embassy in Burkina Faso and the armed forces headquarters.”
Map of Burkina Faso locating Ouagadougou, and a map of the city centre
“Four attackers were neutralised in the attack on the French embassy,” it said in a statement posted on its Information Service website.
“Special units of the defence and security forces have been deployed,” it said, adding that a complete toll was not immediately available.
– ‘Under control’ –
In Paris, a French government source described the situation as “under control.” President Emmanuel Macron’s office said the French leader was “being informed in real time” of the situation.
Burkina Faso is one of a group of fragile countries on the southern rim of the Sahara that are battling jihadist groups.
The insurgency has caused thousands of deaths, prompted tens of thousands to flee their homes and dealt crippling blows to economies that are already among the poorest in the world.