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Troops rescue hostages from Burkina Faso hotel •Terrorists attack another hotel

By News Express on 16/01/2016

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Burkina Faso security forces have freed more than 120 hostages from a hotel seized by al-Qaida-linked fighters in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, but a second assault has begun at another hotel nearby, according to reports.

“The attacks on the Splendid hotel and the Cappuccino (café) are over. But an assault is ongoing at the Hotel Yibi,” Simon Compaore, the country’s security minister, told Agence France-Presse.

Compaore had previously said troops were searching nearby buildings to ensure no extremists were in hiding. Twenty-two people had been confirmed dead, but the toll could rise further as security forces continue their search for casualties.

“We don’t yet have a total tally of the dead. The Burkinabe forces are still combing the hotel,” the minister said.

A total of 126 people, including at least 33 wounded, had been freed, he said. Four jihadists, including an Arab and two black Africans, had also been killed.

Islamist extremists invaded the Splendid hotel and the Cappuccino cafe late on Friday night. The militants took control of the five-storey hotel, which is popular with UN staff and foreigners, burning cars outside and firing in the air to drive back crowds.

Security forces freed at least 60 hostages when they first stormed the building, with commandos continuing to fight a floor-by-floor battle with the gunmen several hours after the initial attack.

“It was horrible, people were sleeping and there was blood everywhere,” said Yannick Sawadogo, one of those who escaped. “They were firing at people at close range. We heard them speaking and they were walking around people and firing at people who were not dead. And when they came out they started a fire.”

Dozens of French forces arrived overnight from neighbouring Mali to aid in the rescue. One member of the US military was embedded with the French forces at the scene, and the US was working to provide France with surveillance and reconnaissance help, according to a US senior defence official.

The source told Associated Press that there were about 75 US troops in Burkina Faso: 15 assigned to the embassy and about 60 assisting the French military.

An al-Qaida affiliate known as AQIM, or al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, claimed responsibility during the attack, saying it was “revenge against France and the disbelieving west,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

The attackers were members of the Al-Murabitoun group based in Mali and run by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, SITE said. In a message posted in Arabic on the militants’ “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.

•Adapted from The Guardian (London). Photo courtesy of Nabila El Hadad/AFP/Getty Images shows French gendarmes tending to a wounded man outside Splendid hotel, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Source News Express

Posted 16/01/2016 08:22:27 AM

 

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