Armed men launch attack in Burkina Faso near Mali

AP News
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Posted: Aug 24, 2015 3:50 PM

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Several suspected Islamic militants launched a rare attack near the West African nation's border with Mali on Monday, wounding at least two people as they said they were targeting Christians, a witness and a security official said.

Witness Alassane Hamidou told The Associated Press that he had gone to a police station in Oursi and when he knocked on the door, three masked gunmen inside told him to lie down on the ground.

"There are no police here now — it is Boko Haram from now on," the assailants said, according to Hamidou. "We are looking for Christians, and you are spared because you are a Muslim."

No extremist group immediately took responsibility for Monday's violence, and even though the attackers mentioned Boko Haram it wasn't known whether they had any connection to the Nigeria-based group that has launched attacks in Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

A security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to reporters said late Monday that the military is sending soldiers to the area near the Malian border to step up security. The attack took place about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Mali, which is home to a number of Islamic extremist groups.

Burkina Faso has largely been spared jihadi violence destabilizing nearby countries. However, a Romanian security officer working at a mine in Burkina Faso was kidnapped nearly five months ago.