Forces try to retake hotel attacked Friday by al-Qaida


Associated Press

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso

Al-Qaida militants struck an upscale hotel and nearby cafe late Friday that are popular with Westerners in Burkina Faso’s capital, taking an unknown number of hostages and forcing others to hide for their lives as gunfire and explosions rang out. The country’s troops backed by French forces were still trying to retake control of the building eight hours later.

It was not immediately known how many people may have been killed during the siege, though a survivor told hospital director Robert Sangare he estimated the toll could be as high as 20. At least 15 other people were seriously wounded by bullets and undergoing treatment at the Yalgado Ouedraogo hospital, he said.

The local al-Qaida affiliate known as AQIM claimed responsibility online as the attack was ongoing in downtown Ouagadougou at the 147-room Splendid Hotel, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

In a message posted in Arabic on the militants’ “Muslim Africa” Telegram account, it said fighters had “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.

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