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Burkina Faso Bars French Defense Attache in New Blow to Ex-Ally

(Bloomberg) -- Burkina Faso’s military leadership has given the French Embassy’s defense attache two weeks to leave the country as relations between the former allies fray.

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Emmanuel Pasquier was asked to leave together with his staff due to “subversive activities,” according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

A ministry spokesman confirmed the French official was asked to leave, but provided no further details.

France dismissed the allegations against its representative as “fictional,” French news agency Agence France-Presse reported.

Ties between Burkina Faso and France shredded as junta leader Capt. Ibrahim Traore, who seized power in September last year, moved to strengthen relations with Russia, as part of efforts to combat extremists in West Africa’s Sahel region.

Traore earlier this year ended its military collaboration with France, following Mali, which also severed military ties.

Niger ended a raft of military deals with the former colonial power last month, cutting off defense links that were forged to combat a decade-long Islamist insurgency. It also ordered the French ambassador and about 1,500 French troops stationed in Niger to leave.

The 48-hour ultimatum for Ambassador Sylvain Itte, issued last month passed with him still in his post as President Emmanuel Macron refused to comply with the coup leaders’ demands.

Macron on Friday said the ambassador and the diplomatic staff “were literally being held hostage in the embassy” in Niger’s capital, Niamey, AFP reported.

The ambassador is living off “military rations” as the junta is “refusing food deliveries” AFP said, citing Macron.

Earlier this year France withdrew Ambassador Luc Hallade after the Burkina Faso junta asked him to leave.

--With assistance from Ania Nussbaum.

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