Ouagadougou | At least 23 people from 18 countries were killed in an attack by jihadist gunmen on a top hotel and a restaurant in the capital of Burkina Faso, before security forces ended the siege today and killed four assailants. A total of 126 people were freed, including 33 wounded, from the four-star Splendid hotel, popular with Westerners and UN personnel, after security forces retook the 147-room facility and the Cappuccino restaurant nearby in the early hours this morning, Interior Minister Simon Compaore.
The jihadists’ assault had been completely crushed by midday today, a security source said. Four jihadists, including two women, were killed in the counter-assault. 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.
The security source said at least 23 people from 18 countries were killed in the jihadists’ assaults, adding that the toll could yet rise. Aside from the four jihadists killed, a fifth attacker could be seen rushing into a nearby bar, according to witnesses who managed to escape. Compaore told AFP earlier that firefighters had seen 10 bodies on the terrace of the restaurant. A total of 126 people, including at least 33 wounded, have been freed. Three jihadists an Arab and two black Africans have been killed, Compaore said.
President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, who took office just last month, visited the hotel today but made no immediate comment. Communication Minister Remis Dandjinou told AFP the counter-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 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.
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