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Burkina Faso Vows to Fight Extremists, Zawahiri Threatens France

Burkina Faso Vows to Fight Extremists, Zawahiri Threatens France

Wednesday, 7 March, 2018 - 07:15
Soldiers stand guard in front of the Splendid Hotel after an attack on the hotel and a restaurant in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney

Burkina Faso’s President Mark Roch said his country would fight and defeat militants despite an attack last week which was claimed by Qaeda-affiliated group in Ouagadougou in which 8 people were killed and dozens wounded.

The president's comments came by the time Qaeda's leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called on Muslims in Maghreb to fight French troops in the African Sahel, according to a video released Tuesday by the US-based Site group.

AFP reported that in the 7 minutes-long video titled "France Has Returned Oh Descendants of the Lions" Zawahiri did not comment on the attack in Ouagadougou claimed by Qaeda-affiliated group "Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin".

Zawahiri further noted that "Arab Spring" has failed, saying “the old corruption” returned and was “more ferocious and even more corrupt.”

Roch was joined by the presidents of neighboring Togo and Niger in a show of solidarity with each other and with former colonial master France, whose forces intervened five years ago to stop militants taking over neighboring Mali, according to Reuters.

Also, "Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin" has claimed responsibility on Saturday for the attacks on the army headquarters and French embassy in Ouagadougou that also killed eight gunmen.

“The fight against terrorism is a long one and in this combat no sacrifice will be too high in the defense of our fatherland,” Reuters reported Roch as saying.

“Recent events have shaken the Burkinabe people, but I assure you they will remain standing and end terrorism no matter what,” he added.

The double assault highlighted the growing risk from militants in the Sahel five years after the French intervention.

France is pinning hopes on the so-called G5 Sahel force — comprising the armies of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad — to enable it to start withdrawing the 4,000 troops it still has stationed in the region, Reuters reported.

The G5 permanent council, chaired by Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou, met in Ouagadougou on Monday although Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe was the only other president at the meeting.

“Terrorists ... seek to undo our alliance ... They say our allies are foreign troops. For us they are not foreign troops, they are allies fighting for the same cause,” Issoufou said.

Reuters noted that extremist groups have regrouped since the French intervention in 2013. They have expanded into central Mali, which they have used as a launchpad to hit Burkina Faso, Niger and Ivory Coast.

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