A terrorist attack has killed at least 28 people and wounded dozens in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso on Friday, according to an interim report released by France Press, citing security sources. The Burkinabe government, however, speaks of 16 dead, including nine assailants.
The attack began a little before ten o’clock in the morning and had as objectives different buildings of the so-called diplomatic quarter, among them the French Embassy and the headquarters of the Army Staff, where most of the victims have taken place. At the moment the identity of the attackers is unknown, although everything points to a “jihadist” action, as announced by the Burkinabe government.
The double attack was perpetrated by a dozen people, of whom at least nine have been shot dead by security forces and two have been arrested. The rest of confirmed deaths are seven soldiers, according to a spokesman of the Executive, who also revealed after four in the afternoon that the situation was “under control”. It all started when five alleged terrorists tried unsuccessfully to enter the French Embassy, which caused an intense exchange of gunfire with the gendarmes who protect the building.
Moments later there was a strong explosion in the vicinity of the headquarters of the Army General Staff followed by an intense shooting between soldiers and another group of armed men. The Minister of Security, Clement Sawadogo, reported that the explosion was caused by a car bomb. As a result of this double attack, there was enormous confusion and intense smoke enveloped the area.
France has announced the opening of an investigation into a terrorist attack. In addition to the dead, there were about 75 people injured, according to AFP assured Colonel Amado Kafando, director of the Army’s medical service. The Government has opened an emergency medical post at the Issoufou Joseph Colombo Stadium to care for those affected.
This is the third attack of similar characteristics suffered by the capital of Burkina Faso in just over two years. The first took place in January 2016 when thirty people who were in a hotel and a terrace in the center of Ouagadougou were killed in a shootout carried out by members of the terrorist group Al Morabitún, linked to al Qaeda.
The second occurred last August in the café Istanbul, causing the death of 19 people without being claimed. However, the border area with Mali, in the north of the country, has suffered about 80 armed incidents carried out by the Burkinabe group Ansarul Islam in the last three years, with the result of 133 deaths, almost all police and soldiers, and about 15,000 people displaced from their homes.
The radical jihadism that gangrene in the north and center of Mali has been spreading to neighboring countries, especially Niger and Burkina Faso. To respond to this phenomenon, these three states along with Mauritania and Chad have created the G5 of the Sahel, which tries to launch a joint military force with international support, especially French.
Recently, the European Union announced that it was doubling its participation in this initiative, raising to 414 million euros the global amount received by this military force. However, the G5 calculates that it needs 480 million to be fully operational.
Since Operation Serval was launched in 2013 to combat the jihadist groups that had occupied the north of Mali, France maintains an intense military presence in the area of some 4,000 troops in the Sahel area under the umbrella of Operation Barkhane.
The EU has promised to maintain its support. “We remain determined to support Burkina Faso and the states of the region in their fight against terrorism, at the national level and within the framework of the Sahel G5 and their joint force,” the European External Action Service said in a statement.