AU strongly condemns attack in Burkina Faso

Black smoke billows above downtown Ouagadougou. Ahmed Ouoba  AFP

At least eight people were killed and more than 80 injured in two attacks in Burkina Faso's capital, one of them targeting the French embassy, security officials said. A deep hole in the ground and adjacent wall mark where extremists dressed in uniform set off a auto bomb, apparently targeting a room where senior officers were to have met, but had relocated, according to Security Minister Clement Sawadogo. Sawadogo said if the meeting had taken place in that room, "our army would have been beheaded".

"Stay hidden where you are", the French Embassy wrote in a Facebook post Friday morning.

"Our country was once again the target of dark forces", President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said in a statement. "It makes me insane", he said.

Rémi Dandjinou, Burkina Faso's minister of communication, told CNN the attackers also used an explosive device at a military site.

A group called Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) also said some of its militants were involved.

Men escape from Burkina Faso's army headquarters during an attack in Ougadougou. Burkina Faso is one of a string of fragile countries on the southern rim of the Sahara that are battling jihadist groups.

On Friday, a number of attackers executed a coordinated attack on the army headquarters and French embassy, which France's foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said was likely carried out by "terrorist groups". Two attackers were captured, according to military source and state television.

Macron, who made a high-profile visit to Burkina Faso in November, said the attacks "illustrate once more the threat weighing on the entire Sahel region".

Paul Kaolaga, a terrorism analyst with the Strategic Network on Security in the Sahel, said the military, supported by French special forces, had brought both attack scenes under control.

French forces based in the country were also deployed.

Five regional countries launched a new taskforce a year ago to tackle Islamist militants in the zone, to which global donors have committed a half-billion dollars. In response to the new violence in eastern Burkina Faso, troops from Burkina Faso and nearby Mali and Niger have increased patrols.

People on Saturday flocked around the headquarters and the French Embassy to view the damage.

"Burkina Faso's regional and global military alliances to counter violent extremism in West Africa's Sahara desert region have made it a target", NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.

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

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