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Spanish priest, customs officers die in Burkina attack

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

“The Spanish Salesian Antonio Cesar Fernandez was assassinated during a jihadist attack between Togo and Burkina Faso,” around 3:00 pm local time on Friday,” the Salesians of Don Bosco order said in a statement posted Friday on Twitter.

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

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

A Burkina security source added that a mobile customs unit “that had set up a control point in Nohao (near the border with Togo) was also the target of a terrorist attack on Friday around 17h00” local time.

On Saturday, the toll stood at four customs officers killed along with the 72-year-old Spanish priest.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez expressed Saturday on Twitter “all my affection for the family and colleagues of missionary Antonio Cesar Fernandez and all the victims of the terror attack in Burkina Faso.

“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.