Three suspected jihadists and a gendarme were killed on Tuesday in Burkina Faso's capital in a pre-dawn raid led by security forces on the suspects' house. Burkinabè officials say the militants were linked to an attack in March against the army headquarters and the French embassy in Ouagadougou.
The night-time raid on the supects' house lasted about seven hours.
According to witnesses, the operation started around 1.30am and was carried out in several waves, with intense fexchanges of fire between the men inside and security forces alternating with lulls.
One gendarme died of his wounds and six other people, including two civilians, were injured, while three suspected jihadists were killed and another captured.
Weapons and equipment seized
Inside the house, the security forces found six assault rifles, explosives and detonators, French and Burkinabé military uniforms, as well as mobile phones and Sim cards, according to Burkinabè Security Minister Clement Sawadogo.
He told the press that the allged jihadists had a connection to the 2 March Ougadougou attack, when the military headquarters and French embassy were targeted in a coordinated operation claimed by the so-called Group to Support Islam and Muslims, a jihadist coalition based in Mali.
"Since last March's attack, we have conducted several sweep operations based on intelligence information and tip-offs," the minister explained. "We've actually recently dismantled another terrorist cell in the same neighbourhood.
"Investigations and interrogations are still underway regarding the March attack and, thanks to the information gradually gathered, we have been able to identify these suspects, who are connected to the jihadists behind the March attack."
About 30 people arrested
The identity and nationality of the four men was not immediately known but Sawadogo said they were well equipped to carry out terrorist missions either in Burkina Faso or its neighbouring countries.
He added that police made about 30 arrests in a routine post-operation sweep.
Before the latest March attack, terrorists had already targeted a restaurant in Ougadougou in August 2017, killing 19 people, while in January 2016 30 people died in a jihadist assault against an hotel and a café.
Besides these attacks in the capital, numerous state officials, teachers and civilians have been killed, abducted or threatened in recent months in the northern regions of the country, near the Mali border.