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Extremists kill 2 in Burkina Faso as schools targeted

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OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Jihadists on motorbikes killed two people including a school official early Friday in a village in Burkina Faso's north and then went to other villages demanding that schools close, a provincial official said.

The attack in Kourfayl terrified teachers who gathered in the nearby provincial capital for safety, said High Commissioner of Soum province Mohamed Dah.

Jihadists had warned weeks ago of attacks if schools didn't close or teach only the Quran.

"One has only to recognize that the Soum no longer belongs to us," said Moussa Eric Ouedraogo, a teacher in the province.

Earlier this week, jihadists attacked two other provincial communities, injuring one woman and setting fire to police stations, buildings and homes in Baraboule and Tongomayel. The attackers fled toward the border with Mali after security forces streamed in.

The Ansaru Islam group, which has links to the Ansar Dine extremist movement in Mali, claimed responsibility for those attacks. Ansaru Islam also killed at least 12 gendarmes in the province in December.

The leader of Ansaru Islam is a radical Burkina Faso preacher who earlier this year asked teachers to stop teaching in French and to teach the Quran in Arabic.

The violence comes as Burkina Faso hosts an international film festival in Ouagadougou.

Burkina Faso was long spared the jihadist unrest experienced by neighboring countries. But extremists recently have abducted foreigners in the north and in January 2016 launched a major terror attack on a cafe popular with foreigners that killed 30 people.

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