Fri, 23 Aug 2019

A Spanish priest and four customs officers were killed in separate attacks by suspected jihadists in Burkina Faso, which is struggling with a radical Islamist insurgency, local sources said.

"The Spanish Salesian Antonio Cesar Fernandez was assassinated during a jihadist attack between Togo and Burkina Faso," around 15:00 local time on Friday," the Salesians of Don Bosco order said in a statement posted Friday.

Fernandez and two others were returning from a meeting in the Togolese capital Lome when they "were attacked by gunmen after crossing the border between Togo and Burkina Faso", the head of the order, Jose Elegbede, said in a statement.

"After searching the car, they pulled Cesar from the group and the men shot him," Elegbede added.

The group's chauffeur, Fabrice Aziawo, said the gunmen captured them at a checkpoint.

"Armed men took us into the forest, Cesar and me. I heard shots. They told me to turn around and I saw Cesar lying on the ground."

Cesar Fernandez, 72, had been working in Africa since 1982, said his order, the Salesians of don Bosco, in a statement.

In a separate attack, gunmen targeted customs officers who set up a mobile post in Nohao, near the border with Togo on Friday evening, killing four of them, a security source told AFP.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez offered his condolences to the family and colleagues of the priest.

"I am absolutely revolted by this attack and my respect to those... who risk their lives to work in conflict zones," he added.

A local security source said the attack was carried out by "a group of around 20 gunmen who then fled into a wooded zone".

More than 300 people have been killed in the country in four years of jihadist attacks, according to an AFP count.

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