Armed assailants attacked several targets in Burkina Faso's capital including the army headquarters and the French Embassy, in a co-ordinated assault Friday that France's ambassador to the West African region called a terrorist attack.
We are getting pictures through showing that the smoke from explosions during the unfolding attack on Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou has seemingly completely filled the sky.
The country is one of a group of fragile states on the southern rim of the Sahara that are battling jihadist groups.
French military spokesman Colonel Patrick Steiger told AFP said French forces in Burkina Faso "intervened in support" of the local military but "did not directly take part in the action".
According to the statement, "armed men attacked the French Embassy and army headquarters on Friday 02 March".
More than 90 people were wounded in the violence in the former French colony in West Africa, and officials called it a terrorist attack.
Witnesses said that men with guns got out of the auto and opened fire on the buildings.
French President Emmanuel Macron telephoned his Burkinabe counterpart Kabore to express solidarity and send his condolences to the families of the slain security force members, his office said.
The ministry's website recommended that people stay off the streets and remain in a safe place.
A government source said 16 people - nine assailants and seven members of the security forces - had died, majority in the attack on the military headquarters. They also set fire to the truck, the witnesses added.
The U.S. embassy in the city said on its Twitter account it advised residents to seek shelter.
French forces based in the country have been deployed. Within minutes, the attackers had gotten to the Prime Minister's office, the French Embassy and the Army Headquarters and fired rockets at the buildings.
Ouagadougou has been attacked by Islamic extremists targeting foreigners at least twice in the past few years.
It was not immediately clear what caused the blast, though a witness at the scene told Reuters news agency masked gunmen attacked guards at the military headquarters following the explosion.
Macron, who made a high-profile visit to Burkina Faso in November, said the attacks "illustrate once more the threat weighing on the entire Sahel region". The 5,000-member force combines troops from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania, with France leading the efforts to bring in global funding.