The Latest: France on alert after Burkina Faso attack

March 02, 2018 - 7:32 am

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — The Latest on the attack in Burkina Faso's capital (all times local):

12:29 p.m.

French authorities are on alert and warning of gunfire in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou and telling French citizens to stay inside after an apparent Islamic extremist attack.

French President Emmanuel Macron's office says he is following the situation closely. The attack comes three months after Macron visited the former French colony.

France's foreign ministry doesn't confirm whether or not the French embassy and the French Institute in the city were targeted.

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

Several messages published on the foreign ministry's website and Twitter accounts urge French citizen to avoid the city center, stay off the streets and remain in a safe place.

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12:10 p.m.

Burkina Faso's police director general says the capital is being attacked by suspected Islamic extremists after explosions and gunfire were heard in Ouagadougou early Friday.

Jean Bosco Kienou told The Associated Press Friday "the form is that of a terrorist attack."

Gunshots became intermittent and helicopters are now flying near the French Embassy.

Heavy smoke is seen coming from the army joint chief of staff's office in Ouagadougou. Witness said loud explosions were still heard around the army headquarters.

Witnesses at the national television office which faces the French Embassy said that five people came in a pick-up truck in front of the embassy and started shooting after saying "Allahu Akhbar" and then set fire to the truck and began shooting.

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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.

Plumes of black smoke could be seen above the army offices in western Ouagadougou where police and gendarmerie responded. 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.

Witnesses told The Associated Press that they saw five attackers in a pickup truck heading toward the French Embassy. They said the attackers left the truck, set fire to the embassy and started shooting.

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Associated Press writer Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal contributed to this report.

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