Around 50 unidentified gunmen attacked a Burkina Faso gendarmerie brigade near the country's western border with Mali on Friday and killed three, a Defence Ministry statement said.

"At around 4 a.m. (0400 GMT), about 50 as of yet unidentified armed men coming from the western borders of Burkina attacked the gendarmerie brigade of Samorogouan," said brigade general Pingrenoma Zagre in a statement.

Samorogouan is around 500 km (300 miles) southwest of Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou and around 50 km east of the border with Mali.

The attack is the first in that area of the country. A previous assault along Burkina Faso's northern border with Mali killed one gendarmerie in August.