Burkina Faso hotel attack ends, 126 freed, 27 dead

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso -- Burkina Faso and French forces killed four extremists Saturday and freed more than 126 people to end the seizure of a luxury hotel by al Qaeda-linked militants, Burkina Faso officials said.

See Full Article

In addition to the four jihadists, at least 23 people were killed in the attack at the Splendid Hotel and a nearby cafe in Ouagadougou, the capital, the president said. Three attackers were killed at the hotel and a fourth was killed when security forces cleared out a second hotel nearby.

Two of the three attackers at the Splendid Hotel were identified as female, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said on national radio.

A spokesman for Canada's Global Affairs Department said it was trying to determine if any Canadians were caught up in the attack, but there was no immediate indication any were involved.

In a separate development, an Austrian doctor and his wife were kidnapped Friday night by extremists in Burkina Faso's north near its border with Mali, Abi Ouattara, security ministry spokeswoman, said Saturday.

The ministry did not have immediate information on how long the two Austrians had been in northern Burkina Faso, where they were doing volunteer work. Jihadis took the two from the town of Baraboule in the Soum province in Burkina Faso's Sahel region, Ouattara said.

There was no immediate confirmation of the kidnapping from Austria's Foreign Ministry. "We are trying to look into the matter as quickly as possible," spokesman Thomas Schnoell told the Austria Press Agency.

In the capital, the Islamic extremists stormed the Splendid Hotel and a nearby cafe Friday night.

Gunfire ramped up early Saturday as gendarme and military forces fought to take back the building which had been blackened by a fire during the assault. The security forces took control of the Splendid Hotel and were searching nearby hotels to be sure no other extremists were hiding. The search continued even after security forces found and killed a fourth extremist at the Hotel Yibi, the president said.

About 33 people were wounded and 126 people were freed after the morning call to prayer signalled a new day in this West African nation, said Minister of Security and Internal Affairs Simon Compaore.

Cars and motorbikes were burned, and overturned chairs and shards of glass lay scattered near the hotel. Onlookers were kept far away from the fighting that continued into daylight.

The harrowing attack was launched by the same extremists behind a similar siege at an upscale hotel in Bamako, Mali in November that left 20 dead.

Dozens of French forces arrived overnight from neighbouring Mali to aid in the rescue. One U.S. military member was embedded with French forces at the scene, and the United States was working to help provide France with surveillance and reconnaissance help, according to a U.S. senior defence official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

An al Qaeda affiliate known as AQIM, or al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, claimed responsibility online as the attack was ongoing in downtown Ouagadougou at the 147-room hotel, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

In a message posted in Arabic on the extremists' "Muslim Africa" Telegram account, it said fighters "broke into a restaurant of one of the biggest hotels in the capital of Burkina Faso, and are now entrenched and the clashes are continuing with the enemies of the religion." Fighters who spoke by phone later "asserted the fall of many dead Crusaders," AQIM said, according to SITE.

Burkina Faso's Internal Affairs Minister Simon Compaore said that 10 bodies were found inside the Cappuccino Cafe, a restaurant located next to the Splendid Hotel.

"We know that the gunmen won't get out of the hotel alive," said one witness, who gave only his first name, Gilbert. "Our country is not for jihadists or terrorists. They got it wrong."

Burkina Faso, a largely Muslim country, had for years been largely spared from the violence carried out by Islamic extremist groups who were abducting foreigners for ransom in Mali and Niger. Then last April, a Romanian national was kidnapped in an attack that was the first of its kind in Burkina Faso.

The country also has been in growing political 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.

The hotel attack in Mali in November also was claimed by a leader of AQIM, who said it had been carried out as a declaration of unity with Algerian militant Moktar Belmoktar's extremist group Al-Mourabitoun, according to an audio speech that was distributed by SITE at the time. Belmoktar was a former leader in AQIM before starting his own group, which now has merged back with al Qaeda.

Associated Press writers Ludivine Laniepce in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal; and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Decades-long mystery of Second World War helmet finally solved

    Canada News CTV News
    A mysterious Second World War helmet lost for decades has finally been returned to its rightful owners, thanks to some sleuthing and luck online. The Di Cecco family first discovered the helmet when they moved into a Toronto-area home in the 1960s. Source
  • Canada's 150 year ends on ice, but no hockey pucks, triple jumps allowed

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- No figure skating. No hockey. No racing. No cell phones. But other than that have fun kids! Canadian Heritage Wednesday unveiled the details of the Canada 150 Ice Rink currently being built on the east lawn of Parliament Hill. Source
  • Regina man accused of smuggling Nigerians across Canada-U.S. border

    Canada News CTV News
    SASKATOON -- A man who pleaded guilty in the United States for his part in a human smuggling operation has been arrested and charged in Canada. RCMP say Victor Omoruyi of Regina was picked up at the Saskatoon International Airport on Tuesday. Source
  • Canada's largest school board votes to end armed police presence in schools

    Canada News CBC News
    Canada's largest school board has voted to end a controversial program that places uniformed police officers in dozens of public schools across Toronto. Toronto District School Board (TDSB) trustees voted 18-3 in favour of cancelling the School Resource Officer (SRO) program during a meeting on Wednesday night. Source
  • Sexual attacks against Rohingya may be war crimes: UN envoy

    World News CTV News
    Widespread atrocities against Rohingya Muslim women and girls have been orchestrated and perpetrated by Myanmar's military and may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, the U.N. envoy on sexual violence in conflict said Wednesday. Source
  • Report: 2 women claim Franken touched them inappropriately

    World News CTV News
    MINNEAPOLIS - Two women are alleging that Minnesota Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken touched their buttocks during events for his first campaign for Senate. The women spoke to Huffington Post on condition of anonymity. Source
  • 12 of 14 Hurricane Irma nursing home deaths ruled homicides

    World News CBC News
    Authorities say the deaths of 12 of the 14 Florida nursing home patients who died after Hurricane Irma have been ruled homicides. The Sun Sentinel reports that autopsy results from the Broward County medical examiner's office were released Wednesday. Source
  • Daily public transit use could pose hearing loss risk: study

    Canada News CTV News
    Daily use of public transit might cause hearing loss. It’s a conclusion anyone who’s taken Toronto rail transit might reach after one ride, but researchers from the University of Toronto now have data to suggest it may be true. Source
  • 'I would draw the line:' Sask. premier candidate opposes abortion for rape victims

    Canada News CTV News
    REGINA -- One of the leading candidates in the race to become the next premier of Saskatchewan says he doesn't believe in abortion, even in the case of sex assault victims. Ken Cheveldayoff, a long-time Saskatoon member of the legislature for the Saskatchewan Party, also says anyone under 18 should need parental consent for the procedure. Source
  • Russia says expert body on Syria chemical attacks 'is dead'

    World News CTV News
    Russia's U.N. ambassador said Wednesday the expert body that has determined responsibility for chemical weapons attacks in Syria "is dead" -- but Moscow is ready to discuss "a new mechanism." Vassily Nebenzia told reporters after a closed Security Council discussion that the Joint Investigative Mechanism, or JIM, "has discredited itself completely. Source