French embassy in Burkina Faso changes Facebook message on assault

People watch as smoke rises after the attacks in Ouagadougou

Other witnesses said there was an explosion 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.

France's embassy is no longer in danger, an aide to Mr le Drian said.

The attackers, whose identities remained unclear as at the time of filing this report, apparently targeted Army Headquarters, French Embassy in Ouagadougou and Mr. Kaba Thieba's office.

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".

Souro Sanou, an official at the hospital in the capital, said that several people have been wounded.

He said that the death toll for the soldiers is likely to climb, as many others were seriously wounded.

It ceased by around noon.

In a separate development on Friday, the specialist USA website SITE, which monitors jihadist activity, said kidnappers had released a video of a 75-year-old French hostage, Sophie Petronin, who had been abducted in northern Mali in late 2016. Avoid the area of downtown Ouagadougou.

The French target is symbolic given that French president Emmanuel Macron chose to outline in November his Africa strategy, which includes the fight against Islamist militants, in Ouagadougou.

The French embassy in Ouagadougou writes on its Facebook page "there is no certainty at the moment" about the places that where targeted.

An explosion rocked the army headquarters and then gunfire rang out in the vicinity.

A Reuters reporter saw an ambulance entering the army compound. Barricades were erected to keep people from that area and from the French Embassy and the prime minister's office in the eastern part of the city center where gunfire and smoke were reported.

It has been reported that witnesses saw gunmen alighting from a auto and opening fire before heading towards the embassy.

The city's military headquarters and the embassy - which is also near the prime minister's office - are about one kilometre apart.

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 also set fire to the truck, the witnesses added.

Since Emmanuel Macron came to power, France has been trying to mobilise its former colonies in West Africa, and the United Nations, to tackle the Islamist militant groups which operate in the Sahel region south of the Sahara.

On August 13, two assailants opened fire on a restaurant on Ouagadougou's main avenue, killing 19 people and wounding 21 others.

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