Islamists open fire on passers-by outside French embassy in Burkina Faso

[B] Report: Islamic extremists have killed at least seven soldiers in Burkina Faso's capital after opening fire on the French embassy and army headquarters in separate attacks.

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.

Many others were wounded among the security forces, and it was feared the death toll could rise, said the official, Communications Minister Remy Danjuinou.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Burkina Information Minister Remis Fulgance Dandjinou said the attack "has strong overtones of terrorism". There has been no claim of responsibility.

Witnesses in Ouagadougou started reporting sounds of gunfire and rocket launchers across the city shortly after 10:00 a.m. local time.

Witnesses at state TV offices that face the embassy told The Associated Press that five attackers arrived in a pickup truck, shouted, "Allahu Akhbar", and began shooting.

Gunfire and explosions rocked Burkina Faso's capital Friday, by the army headquarters and in a neighborhood that houses embassies, the offices of the prime minister and the United Nations. The affected area includes the Chief of Staff Headquarters.

The US Embassy urged people to seek shelter.

The national police said in a statement that eight gunmen were killed: four at the embassy and four at the army headquarters.

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"Burkinabe security forces are mobilized against the attackers with the support of security forces at our embassy", said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in a statement.

Officials from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger were at the meeting, representing the G5 Sahel nations who have launched a joint military force to combat jihadists on the southern rim of the Sahara.

In August, extremists opened fire as patrons dined on a Sunday night at the Aziz Istanbul restaurant, killing at least 18 people. In 2016, about 30 people were killed when Islamist extremists attacked a cafeteria in the capital.

"The vehicle was packed with explosives" and caused "huge damage", Sawadogo said, adding that it was a "suicide" attack.

Danjuinou said it was not clear how many militants staged the assaults in both locations and others may be on the run.

He said gunfire and explosions had subsided and people were seen leaving offices near the attacks.

The number of casualties is unclear, but reports suggest that several people have been wounded.

The government said four attackers have been killed by specialist security forces, and operations are ongoing in the area. The attack comes three months after Macron visited the former French colony.

Three security sources, two in France and one in West Africa, told AFP in Paris that at least 28 people were killed in the attack on the military headquarters alone.

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