This is a developing story.
A group of Muslim terrorists have staged an attack on France’s embassy, leaving dozens dead and injured. Eight terrorists are dead, according to initial reports.
The attack took place in the West African country of Burkina Faso, in the capital of Ouagadougou. The country is home to over 18 million people and is a former French colony.
Islamic extremists opened fire on the French Embassy and army headquarters in separate attacks in Burkina Faso’s capital Friday, killing at least seven soldiers, while eight of the militants were slain, a government official said.
Many others were wounded among the security forces, and it was feared the death toll could rise, said the official, Communications Minister Remy Danjuinou. Five emergency centers were set up in Ouagadougou to treat the high number of casualties in the former French colony.
It was not clear if more militants were involved in the violence, which was called a terrorist attack by Jean Bosco Kienou, director general of Burkina Faso’s police, and French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. There was no claim of responsibility.
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.
Defense and security forces responded to the attacks, police said, and barricades were set up.
Witnesses at the state television offices that face the embassy told The Associated Press that five attackers arrived in a pickup truck and started shooting after shouting, “Allahu Akhbar.” They then set fire to the truck and continued shooting, the witnesses added.
The neighborhood also houses other embassies, the prime minister’s office and U.N. offices.
Across central Ouagadougou to the west, heavy smoke rose from the army joint chief of staff’s office, where witnesses reported loud explosions.
The assailants there also arrived in a pickup and starting shooting at soldiers, said Moussa Korbeogo, a trader at a nearby market.
“Some of the soldiers ran into a nearby bank to seek shelter. Several were killed outside and inside the premises,” Korbeogo said.
Five of the extremists were killed at the embassy and at least three were killed near the army headquarters, according to Danjuinou, the communications minister.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement that Burkina Faso’s security forces had been mobilized with the support of the French to “reduce the threat.”
A crisis center was set up at the ministry in Paris to monitor the situation, he said, adding that the safety of French citizens in Ouagadougou “is my priority.”
The ministry’s website recommended that people stay off the streets and remain in a safe place.
Here is video from Wochit News.
Here is raw video of helicopters flying above the embassy.