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Al Qaeda affiliate claims responsibility for Burkina Faso attacks

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - A Mali-based al Qaeda affiliate claimed responsibility on Saturday for attacks in neighbouring Burkina Faso that left 16 people dead, including eight gunmen, at the army headquarters and French embassy, Mauritanian news agency Alakhbar reported.

Eighty others were wounded in the coordinated attacks in the capital Ouagadougou, which follow two other major assaults there in the past two years.

The group, Jama'a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), often uses Alakhbar and other Mauritanian news agencies to claim responsibility for strikes against civilian and military targets across West Africa's Sahel region. Alakhbar, citing a message from the group, reported that the attacks were carried out in response to the killing of one of JNIM's leaders, Mohamed Hacen al-Ancari, in a recent raid by French forces.

Burkinabe authorities said four gunmen were killed at army headquarters, where the assailants also detonated a car bomb, and four more were killed at the embassy. Two attackers were also captured on Friday.

Local residents were left to wonder how their country remained vulnerable to such attacks. "If the army headquarters is totally wiped out there is a problem," said Souleymane Traore, director of the newspaper Le Quotidien. "We are really revolted by this insecurity and we must point the finger at those who are responsible."


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