Upscale hotel attacked in Burkina Faso

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso -- Attackers struck an upscale hotel popular with Westerners in Burkina Faso's capital late Friday, fueling the recent political turmoil in the West African country.

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Three hours later, gunfire could still be heard as soldiers in an armoured vehicle finally approached the area.

An Associated Press reporter near the scene said that several cars were also ablaze outside the 147-room Splendid Hotel in downtown Ouagadougou.

Witness Vital Nounagnon told the AP that he saw four men attack the hotel and neighbouring Cappuccino Cafe about 7:30 p.m. Another witness who gave only his first name, Gilbert, said that when security forces first arrived, they turned around rather than confront the attackers.

"But we know that the gunmen won't get out of the hotel alive," he said. "Our country is not for jihadists or terrorists. They got it wrong."

The AP reporter saw an armoured vehicle with security forces arrive nearly three hours after the attack.

It was not immediately clear what group may have been behind the violence, though jihadists have attacked hotels before in neighbouring Mali, including a devastating attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in November that left 20 people dead.

The U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou tweeted: "We are closely following the situation downtown."

While Burkina Faso has largely been spared the violence wracked by Islamic extremist groups in Mali, a Romanian national was abducted last April.

Burkina Faso, a largely Muslim country, has been in turmoil since its longtime president was ousted in a popular uprising in late 2014. Last September members of a presidential guard launched a coup that lasted only about a week. The transitional government returned to power until Burkina Faso's November election ushered in new leaders.



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