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17 January 2016

Siege ends in Burkina Faso as troops storm hotel

thumbs_b_c_dcee5ddb83d2fad6bb2a513f4f09c23bAt least 28 killed, 150 released as local, French forces retake hotel in capital Ouagadougou

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso

 A hotel siege in Burkina Faso’s capital ended Saturday, Security Minister Simon Compere said, leaving at least 28 dead.

Local and French forces killed at least three attackers and freed 150 people, including Labor Minister Clement Sawadogo, as they stormed the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou.

Burkinabe president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore arrived at the scene on Saturday morning after the siege was over. He announced that 18 nationalities are amongst the dead, including those of France, Switzerland, the U.S. and Canada.

“The situation is generally under control,” Burkinabe Prime Minister Paul Kaba Thieba said following an emergency Cabinet meeting Saturday morning. He added that the government condemned “these terrorist acts with the utmost vigor”.

Officials said the latest casualty figures showed 56 injured in the attack.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry “strongly and vehemently” condemned the attack. “Turkey will continue its support to Burkina Faso as it has progressed towards democracy and stabilization in recent years,” the ministry said in a statement.

Later Saturday, the U.S. State Department also “strongly” condemned the attacks, saying that the U.S. stood with the Burkinabe people against terrorism and extremism.

“We will continue to support our partners in Africa to combat this shared and lethal threat,” the U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

Al-Mourabitoun, a militant group linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The hotel, close to the city’s international airport, is used by UN staff and westerners who may have been targets for the militants. The same group claimed it carried out the November attack on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, killing 20 people including U.S., Russian and Chinese nationals.

Militants seized the hotel on Friday night, setting off car bomb explosions and engaging security forces in a prolonged gun battle.

French troops arrived overnight from Mali to assist in the rescue.

At least ten bodies were found in the Cappuccino Cafe, near the hotel.

Burkina Faso, a largely Muslim former French colony, has avoided the violence carried out by Islamist extremists in neighboring countries. In October 2014, a coup overthrew long-time leader Blaise Compaore.

Anadolu Agency

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