French Embassy was target in Burkina Faso attack

The EU funding boost comes as Burkina Faso Chad Mali Mauritania and Niger whose leaders attended a February 6 G5 Sahel summit in Niger strive to tackle what one EU official warned is a

The EU funding boost comes as Burkina Faso Chad Mali Mauritania and Niger whose leaders attended a February 6 G5 Sahel summit in Niger strive to tackle what one EU official warned is a"deteriorating security situation in the jihadist-plagued region

It was the third major attack in Ouagadougou in just over two years.

His association, Ansarul Islam, is considered a terrorist group by Burkina Faso's government.

Previous attacks were conducted by allies of al Qaeda in reprisal for Burkina Faso's participation in a regional fight against Islamist militants.

"After soft targets, such as hotels and restaurants, this attack aimed at hard targets, strong symbols", Paul Koalaga, a security consultant in Burkina Faso said, adding there appeared to be "a problem at the intelligence level".

"I hope it stops." said Bouri Sawadogo, a local student, "because with the frequency that this is happening we're all scared".

The French Embassy came under attack around 10.15am, with witnesses at the nearby state TV offices telling The Associated Press that the attackers had arrived in a pickup truck and began shooting.

They were accompanied by the High Representative of the President of Burkina Faso, Moumina Chériff Sy, and the Mayor of Ouagadougou, Armand Roland Béouindé.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the 2016 killings along with the jihadist group known as Al Mourabitoun. "Their safety is my priority", Le Drian said.

Mr Sawadogo said a meeting of the G5 Sahel regional counter-terrorism force was supposed to have been held at the headquarters but had been moved to another room.

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The 15 ambassadors expressed their solidarity with Burkina Faso in its fight against terrorism and also stressed the need to intensify regional and worldwide efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism, which may be conducive to terrorism.

The French targets attacked are symbolic given that French President Emmanuel Macron chose to outline his Africa strategy, including the fight against militants, in November in Ouagadougou.

A Reuters reporter saw an ambulance entering the army compound.

The area also houses other embassies, the prime minister's office and United Nations premises.

A Reuters reporter said gunfire had largely ceased by noon.

Burkina is a former French colony and, like several others countries in west and central Africa, retains close security and trade links with Paris. The 5,000-member force combines troops from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania, with France leading the efforts to bring in global funding.

The government has launched an investigation into the attacks which killed eight soldiers and injured more than 80.

That attack was claimed by the al-Qaeda-linked Al-Murabitoun group, which was led by the one-eyed Algerian jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

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