Security forces ended a siege by al Qaeda fighters at a hotel in Burkina Faso’s capital on Saturday, killing three Islamist gunmen and freeing 126 hostages, the West African nation’s security minister said.
At least 20 people are believed to have been killed in the attack on Ouagadougou’s Splendid Hotel which began late on Friday. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the raid.
Simon Compaore said operations were still under way at a second hotel nearby, the Hotel Yibi, and security forces were trying to determine if some of the fighters were hiding there.
“The operations at the Splendid Hotel and the (nearby) Restaurant Cappuccino have ended. 126 hostages were freed, among them 33 were wounded,” the minister said. “Three jihadists were killed. They are an Arab and two black Africans.”
A Reuters witness said that clashes ended after a period of sustained gunfire and explosions that appeared to focus on the Restaurant Cappuccino early on Saturday.
Burkina Faso’s new government, which was appointed on Wednesday following the election of President Roch Marc Kabore in November, was due to hold an emergency cabinet meeting at 9 a.m. (4 a.m. ET)).
The Splendid Hotel is popular with Westerners and French soldiers based in Burkina Faso.
A doctor who treated some of those wounded in the attack said they had told him that the attackers appeared to target Westerners. However, the nationalities of those killed in the assault were not immediately known.