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Burkina Faso: siege over, four Islamists killed, 'including two women'


Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso: siege over, four Islamists killed, 'including two women'

  • Operations over at both Splendid Hotel and Hotel Yibi
  • At least 126 hostages released
  • At least 23 people dead
  • President condemns attack
  • Four suspected Islamist militants dead, ‘among them two women’
  • Splendid Hotel frequented by Westerners

A siege at the Splendid Hotel in Burkina Faso’s capital is over, with 126 hostages freed, Internal Affairs Minister Simon Compaoré has confirmed.

Operations at the nearby Yibi Hotel are also over.

Security forces had been trying to establish whether or not some of the attackers were hiding there.

At least 23 people have died, of 18 different nationalities, africanews correspondent Salouka Boureima confirmed.

The toll differs to one given by Gilles Thibault, France’s ambassador to Burkina Faso. He tweeted that 150 people had been rescued from the site of the attack and 27 people had died. It is unclear whether the latter figure includes the attackers who were killed.

Thirty three people are being treated in hospital, a government official from the West African nation has said.

President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré has condemned the attack as “cowardly and vile.”

Jihadists dead

Four suspected Islamist militants have been killed, a gendarme officer has confirmed. Two women were reportedly among the attackers.

Compaoré initially said three jihadists had been killed: “an Arab and two black Africans,” he added.

The group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said its members had carried out the attack, making the claim before the incident was even over.

A senior gendarme officer said the operation to retake the Splendid was slowed down when they discovered the upper floors of the hotel had been rigged with explosives.

Hotel ‘well-used by Westerners’

The Splendid Hotel is located just outside the business district and near to the airport. Compaoré said at least ten dead bodies had been found in the nearby Cappuccino restaurant.

The hotel and surrounding area are said to be well-used by Westerners, NGO workers and officials from Burkina Faso.

What happened and when?

The initial attack started at around 7.30pm local time on Friday (January 15), when witnesses say at least three gunmen started firing in the air outside the hotel.

After the gunmen stormed the hotel, shots could be heard coming from inside the building.

Security forces arrived a short time later and engaged in what witnesses described as “an intense exchange of gunfire” with the attackers.

The security forces secured the perimeter of the hotel and then appear to have become involved in a stand-off with the attackers who had taken hostages inside the building.

Loud explosions could be heard, which officials said were the result of two car bombs.

Authorities declared a curfew and the security forces waited for the order to assault the hotel.

At around 1am local time (2am CET) a fire was seen in the lobby of the hotel and a short time later the assault started.

Hostage release

The first announcement of hostage releases came at around about 4am local time. Thirty people were freed at that point according to a government minister.

Many of the wounded civilians were taken to hospital where they told staff that they had seen at least 20 people lying dead at the scene.

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