This is what we know about the Burkina Faso terrorist attack

There is an ongoing raid at the capital city of Ouagadougou, Burkina faso as militants launched an assault on a luxury hotel. Here is what we know so far:

The attack was on an upscale hotel in the nation’s capital

Late Friday, at about 8.30pm local time, militants attacked Splendid, one of the biggest hotels in Burkina Faso and a nearby Cappuccino restaurant. To begin the assault, they torched cars, launched explosives, and fired in the air taking an unknown number of hostages and forcing others to run into hiding.

Security personnel arrived the scene shortly afterwards and an intense gun battle began, followed by at least an hour of relative quiet. More than eight hours later, the Burkinabe forces aided by the French were still trying to recapture the hotel.

An Al-Qaeda-linked sect is claiming responsibility for the attack

According to a US based intelligence group, SITE, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attack. Apparently, the sect had released a statement saying, the “mujahideen brothers” of AQIM ” 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.”

If confirmed, this would be the first attack by Islamist militants in Ouagadougou. Though several attacks have taken place in Burkina Faso recently, none had been in the capital.

The attack may have been targeted at Westerners

In a statement directed at a foreign audience, AQIM said the hotel was targeted because it was known to be popular with foreigners, whom they described as “the Cross-worshipers, the occupiers of our lands, the looters of our wealth and the abusers of our security.”

A top medical personnel in the city’s university hospital Robert Sangare had said that a wounded European woman being treated at the hospital told him the attackers appeared to target white people.

The Splendid Hotel is said to frequently accommodate foreign nationals, including staffs of the United Nation and military personnel from the United States. The country’s Foreign Minister, Alpha Barry, told France24 news agency that quite a number of the hostages in the hotel were from different nationalities.

At least 20 people have been killed

It is estimated that the death toll could be as high as 20 people, at least 10 people were found dead in the Café close to the hotel, and at least 15 more reported injured. “We have received around 15 wounded people,” said Robert Sangare, some of which have bullet wounds and others injured because of falls.

Over 30 hostages were freed

Burkina Faso’s minister of communication, Remis Dandjinou, tweeted that 33 hostages were freed from the hotel early on Saturday morning. Another government official, Clément Sawadogo, was among the freed hostages.

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