At least 22 people were on Saturday killed in Burkina Faso after Al Qaeda linked gunmen stormed a hotel and a restaurant and took hostages following which security forces gunned down three jihadists and freed 126 people, but another assault was ongoing in a nearby hotel.
A security source said at least 22 people were killed in the jihadists’ assaults on the Burkinabe capital’s four-star Splendid hotel and the nearby Capuccino restaurant, which are popular with UN staff and foreigners.
Thirty-three of the 126 people freed from the Splendid hotel by Burkinabe troops backed by French special forces were wounded.
“The attacks on the Splendid Hotel and the Cappuccino are over. But an assault is ongoing at the Hotel Ybi” next to the Cappuccino, Interior Minister Simon Compaore told AFP.
A total of “126 people, including at least 33 wounded, have been freed. Three jihadists—an Arab and two black Africans—have been killed,” he added.
Twenty people have been confirmed dead, but the toll could rise further as Compaore told AFP earlier in the night that firefighters had seen 10 bodies on the terrace of the restaurant.
“We don’t yet have a total tally of the dead. The Burkinabe forces are still combing the hotel,” he said.
Communication minister Remis Dandjinou told AFP the assault was carried out by Burkinabe troops with the support of French special forces. He also said that among those who escaped unharmed was Labour Minister Clement Sawadogo.
Early today, a fire raged at the main entrance of the 147-room hotel in Ouagodougou and screams could be heard from inside, while on the street outside about 10 vehicles were set alight.
“It was horrible, people were sleeping and there was blood everywhere. They were firing at people at close range,” Yannick Sawadogo, one of those who escaped, told AFP.
“We heard them speaking and they were walking around people and firing at people who were not dead. And when they came out they started a fire.”
The attack comes less than two months after a jihadist hostage siege at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in the Malian capital Bamako left 20 people dead, including 14 foreigners— an attack claimed by the same Al-Qaeda affiliate behind the unfolding Ouagadougou assault.
The head of the city’s main hospital confirmed prior to the start of the counter-assault at least 20 people had been killed.
He quoted one of the wounded as saying there were “more white people than black” among the dead.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attack saying it was “revenge against France and the disbelieving West”, according to a statement carried by US-based monitoring group SITE.
The attackers were members of the Al-Murabitoun group based in Mali and run by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, SITE said.