At least 20 people died and others were taken hostage when Islamist gunmen stormed a hotel in the capital city of Burkina Faso on Friday, an attack for which al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility.
Security forces launched an assault in the early hours of Saturday to rescue hostages held by the Al Qaeda linked gunman in a Burkina Faso hotel where some 100-150 people are believed to have been in the hotel and restaurant at the time of the attack.
Gunshots and explosions rocked Ouagadougou’s four-star Splendid hotel and the nearby “Cappuccino” restaurant on Friday night as Burkinabe forces prepared an assault to rescue hostages still trapped inside the hotel, officials said. French forces could join a counter-assault on the hotel, where assailants were apparently still holed up more than three hours after the attack began.
The attack comes less than two months after a jihadist hostage siege at the luxury Radisson Blu Hotel in the Malian capital Bamako in November, in which 20 people died including 14 foreigners.
“We know that there are victims and there are hostages. Currently the area is blocked by security forces waiting for an assault to free the hostages,” Foreign Minister Alpha Barry said. Around 10 vehicles were on fire in the streets near the hotel in Ouagadougou, not far from the city’s international airport.