, OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso, Jan 16 – Burkina Faso troops supported by French special forces were battling Al-Qaeda linked gunmen in the early hours of Saturday in a Ouagadougou hotel where at least 20 people have been killed.
Sixty-three hostages were rescued, 33 of them wounded, from the Burkinabe capital’s four-star Splendid hotel about two hours after the assault began and heavy gun battles were still being waged on the top floors of the hotel, popular with UN staff and foreigners.
Twenty people have been confirmed dead, but the toll could rise further as interior minister Simon Campaore told AFP that firefighters had seen 10 bodies on the terrace of a restaurant opposite the hotel.
It was not clear how many people remained trapped.
“We don’t yet have a total tally of the dead. The Burkinabe forces are still combing the hotel,” Campaore told AFP
He said it was unclear how many attackers were still inside the 147-room hotel.
“The assault is ongoing with the Burkinabe forces supported by French special forces,” communication minister Remis Dandjinou told AFP.
The attack comes less than two months after a jihadist hostage siege at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in the Malian capital Bamako left 20 people dead, including 14 foreigners – an attack claimed by the same Al-Qaeda affiliate behind the unfolding Ouagadougou assault.