At least 23 people from different countries, plus four Islamic terrorists, were killed in a massive attack overnight Friday in Burkina Faso. About 126 hostages were freed.
The overnight seizure of a luxury hotel in Burkina Faso’s capital by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists ended Saturday when Burkina Faso and French security forces killed four jihadist attackers and freed more than 126 people, the West African nation’s president said.
At least 23 other people from up to 18 different countries were killed in the attack at the Splendid Hotel and nearby Cappuccino Cafe, establishments popular with Westerners in Ouagadougou, the capital, he said. Three terrorists were killed at the hotel, and a fourth when security forces cleared out a second hotel nearby.
Two of the three terrorists at the Splendid Hotel were identified as female, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said on national radio.
“We appeal to the people to be vigilant and brave because we must fight on,” Kabore stated, while praising the security forces and first responders. He also said the country was grateful for the military cooperation from the French and Americans. They helped free at least 126 hostages, and the number of those freed may be as high as 153, he said.
The Islamic terrorists stormed the hotel and cafe Friday night. A young black woman with dreadlocks and young Arabs entered the cafe shouting Allahu akhbar (Arabic for God is great), said Issouf Ouattara, who was at the cafe where 10 people were killed in the gunfire.
“There was general panic. After about 20 minutes the situation calmed down and then the firing started again, and I think this time it was the police,” said another witness, Inoussa Diarra.
“We tried to evacuate the victims because they were a bit hidden all over,” witness Patrick Nikiema told regional news agency Juka Africa.
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. Burned cars and motorbikes and overturned chairs and shards of glass lay scattered near the hotel. Onlookers were kept far away from the fighting that continued into daylight.
“We know that the gunmen won’t get out of the hotel alive. Our country is not for jihadists or terrorists. They got it wrong,” said Gilbert, a witness who gave only his first name.
About 33 people were wounded, Compaore said.
The harrowing attack was launched by the same terrorists behind a similar siege at an upscale hotel in Bamako, Mali, in November that left 20 dead.
Burkina Faso, a largely Muslim country, had for years been largely spared from the violence carried out by Islamic terror groups who were abducting foreigners for ransom in neighboring Mali and Niger. Then last April, a Romanian national was kidnapped in an attack that was the first of its kind in the country.