A grenade attack on French soldiers in Burkina Faso has left three civilians wounded, as France’s President Emmanuel Macron arrives in the African country to begin his first tour of Africa.
“Two hooded individuals on a motorcycle threw a grenade towards a French army vehicle” as it made its way to a barracks housing French Special Forces, a security source told AFP on condition of anonymity, the French news agency reported on Monday. “The attackers’ target was the French army vehicle, which was not hit.”
French Special Forces have been present in Burkina Faso since 2010 on a declared mission to help regional governments in the Sahel tackle extremism, particularly in neighboring Mali.
The source added that three local residents had been wounded in the attack, one of them seriously.
Macron flew into Ouagadougou three hours later for a three-leg tour of West Africa. After Burkina Faso, he will be visiting the Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Macron told reporters shortly after arrival that his trip signaled the start of a fresh opportunity in the relationship between France and Africa.
“My African tour… marks a new stage in our relationship, not only with your country, but also with the entire continent,” he said.
On Wednesday, Macron will visit a giant solar power plant in Burkina Faso, the largest in West Africa, before departing for the Ivorian capital, Abidjan, where the fifth Europe-Africa summit will bring together more than 80 leaders from the two continents.
In Abidjan, he will also inaugurate the city’s colossal metro project, funded by a 1.4-billion-euro (1.6-billion-dollar) French loan.
France was a former colonial power in Africa, ruling over Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast as well as the Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Morocco, and Algeria. Ghana was a former British colony.