Multiple attacks reported in Burkina Faso’s Ouagadougou

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Multiple attacks have been reported in Ouagadougou, the capital of Western African country of Burkina Faso, officials say.

The national police force confirmed on Friday that attacks are taking place in an area near the prime minister’s office and the United Nations roundabout.

The police said in a statement that attacks are ongoing, though it’s unclear if the information is up to date.

A government statement said four attackers had been killed by security forces, adding that operations are ongoing in the area.

Authorities advised residents to stay away from the area.

French media confirmed that the French embassy was also attacked. An official then said the buildings are no longer in danger.

Earlier in the day, there were reports of an explosion and gunfire near the national army headquarters, not far from the French Institute.

Photos online show a large cloud of black smoke in the downtown area.

It was not immediately clear what caused the blast, though a witness at the scene told Reuters news agency masked gunmen attacked guards at the military headquarters following the explosion.

The office of Burkina Faso’s prime minister said in a statement on Facebook that the first ministry building was not attacked, adding there had been no casualties and “no impact”.

Jean-Marc Chataigner, France’s ambassador to the Sahel, called the incident a “terrorist attack” on Twitter.

“Solidarity with colleagues and friends in Burkina Faso,” Chataigner added.

Burkina Faso is one of a number of countries in the Sahel – an area traversing Central and West Africa – battling armed groups in the region.

Last month, the European Union announced it would double its funding for the G5 Sahel military force, which aims at combatting armed groups across the region.

The force is made up of soldiers from Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad.

In 2015, Burkina Faso’s elite presidential guards (RSP) attempted to overthrow ex-President Michel Kafando.

The trial of 84 individuals allegedly involved in the failed coup began earlier this week but was suspended until further notice after defence lawyers walked out of court just hours after the hearing started.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

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