09:18 GMT27 January 2020
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    A "terrorist attack" has hit Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou, France's ambassador to West Africa's Sahel region said after an explosion rocked the army headquarters there and witnesses reported seeing masked gunmen attack the building.

    Eight terrorists that attacked Ouagadougou have been eliminated, seven members of Burkina security forces and about 30 civilians have been killed in attacks, according to AFP, citing three security sources.

    "France's embassy and cultural institute in the Burkina Faso capital are no longer in danger," an aide to Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian said.

    The Special Forces are continuing operations, according to the government statement. Souro Sanou, an official at the hospital in the capital, said that several people have been wounded.

    "The situation is under control at French diplomatic premises," in Burkina Faso's capital, which came under attack Friday, a French foreign ministry source said.    

    An armed attack is underway in downtown Ouagadougou near the prime minister's office and UN roundabout, says the Burkina Faso Police.

    Burkina Faso police director general says capital is being attacked by suspected Islamic extremists. Gunshots have been intermittent and helicopters are now flying near the embassy.

    The police said security units have been deployed to the scene and have urged people to stay away from the area.

    Previously, the French Embassy in Burkina Faso had announced that it was under attack and was asking people to stay in their homes. Later the information was amended to say that it wasn't clear which locations were being targeted in the attack.

    "Terrorist attack this morning in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: solidarity with colleagues and Burkinabe friends," Jean-Marc Châtaigner wrote on Twitter, adding to avoid downtown Ouagadougou.

    French President Macron is receiving updates on events in Burkina Faso, according to Elysee Palace.

    The Embassy of Canada to Burkina Faso is also asking residents to stay away from the downtown area of the city.

    "The US embassy in Burkina Faso has received reports about gunfire in downtown Ouagadougou. Avoid the area and search for a safe place to stay," the US embassy wrote on Twitter.

    Information on the cause of the explosion and possible victims has not been provided.

    Twitter users are posting that shots and explosions heard came from the area near the French Embassy and French institute. 

    Attention si vous êtes à Ouagadougou ce matin. Des tirs et explosions entendus du côté de l’état major proche de l’ambassade de France et institut français #burkinafaso

    According to witnesses, five armed men got out of a car and opened fire on passersby before heading towards French embassy. Others said there was an explosion near the Burkinabe military headquarters.

    Islamist militants have gained a stronger foothold in Africa's vast Sahel region over the last few years, launching attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Niger.

    Suspected jihadists killed at least 18 people last August during a raid on a restaurant in Ouagadougou, and militants have targeted Burkinabe security forces along its remote northern border region with Mali.


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