Photo: Islamic Jihadists attacked French embassy in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso ––Terrorists and jihadists attacked Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso on Friday, according to French and Burkinabe government sources.

The city came under multiple attacks on Friday, with assailants targeting the French embassy, the French cultural center, and the country’s military headquarters, witnesses and police source confirmed.

The Jihadists attacked several other targets on Friday, including the army headquarters, in a coordinated assault that France’s ambassador to the West African region called a terrorist attack.

Xavier Lapeyre de Cabanes, France’s ambassador to Burkina Faso confirmed to journalists that the embassy compound, about two kilometers (1.24 miles) from the army headquarters, also came under attack but gave no further details.

“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.

The Friday’s incidence was the third major attack in Ouagadougou in just over two years.  Even though there is no immediate claim of responsibility, some western regional security analysts say the attacks mirrors the ongoing activities of international Islamic terrorists who are bent on installing Islamic regimes and Sharia law throughout West Africa.

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

A Burkina Faso government statement release said four gunmen were “neutralized” at the French embassy, but was quick to point out that the operations were continuing and there was no immediate information on civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, Burkina Faso’s defense minister said three assailants were killed at the army headquarters during the attacks.   Witnesses informed Globe Afrique that masked gunmen attacked the downtown army headquarters at around 10 a.m. (1000 GMT).

Another group of witnesses said five armed gunmen got out of a car and opened fire on passersby before driving towards the French embassy, in the center of the city.

Other eyewitnesses said there was an explosion near the headquarters of the Burkinabe armed forces and the French cultural center.

Global security experts say several West African nations are vulnerable to terrorists’ attacks and might fall under jihadists control if regional and international efforts are not mounted to curtail the spread of jihadists’ attacks and penetration.

Intelligence sources say Burkina Faso is one of the strings of delicate countries on the southern edge of the Sahara that are combating jihadist groups in an insurgency that has caused thousands of deaths, prompted tens of thousands to flee their homes and dealt crippling blows to economies that are already among the poorest in the world.

In an unclaimed attack on August 13, 2017, terrorists opened fire on a restaurant on Ouagadougou’s main avenue, wounded 21 and killed 19 people.

The year before, specifically on January 15, 2016, more than 30 people, including six Canadians and five Europeans, were killed in a coordinated jihadist attack on a hotel and restaurant in the city’s center of Ouagadougou.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by an Islamic jihadist group called Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which is known by its French acronym of AQMI.

The United Nations has long deployed a 12,000-strong peacekeeping force in Mali called MINUSMA, and France, the former colonial power in the Sahel region, has also deployed 4,000 troops in addition to supporting a five-country joint Sahel force that includes Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.

The five countries – Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Mali, and Mauritania – launched the new Sahel’s task force last year to tackle Islamist militants in the arid Sahel region.

Since the launch of the task force, international donors have committed half a billion dollars so far.  In the past few days, Islamist militants have stepped up attacks in major cities in West Africa, including deadly assaults in Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Niger.

International security experts say Sierra Leone and Liberia seem to be prime targets of jihadist and terrorists that desire to install Sharia Law and Islamic leadership in West African countries.