Masked jihadi gunmen have killed at least 20 with ‘foreigners among the dead’ in Burkina Faso’s capital after invading a popular tourist hotel.
Security forces with the help of 30 French troops – stormed the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou’s business district more than five hours after it was attacked by the jihadists.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a statement released on an encrypted messaging app. The group said the fighters have killed as many as 30 hostages.
The organization claims that the operation was ‘revenge against France and the disbelieving West’, according to New York Times foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi.
The four-star hotel is reportedly used by UN agency staff and is near a cafe called Cappucino, said to be popular with expats, although U.N. spokesman in Ouagadougou, Emile Kabore, told CNN he did not believe any U.N. staffers are currently staying at the hotel.
A 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.’