Saturday, January 16, 2016

The latest chapter in the Islamist war on the West. Only the American President won't say Islamist

Foreigners killed at Burkina Faso luxury hotel

Media captionThomas Fessy explains how the siege started and how special forces brought it to an end
Burkina Faso's government says 26 people were killed and a further 56 injured after Islamist militants attacked a hotel in the capital, Ouagadougou, popular with foreigners.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has said it carried out the attack, which began on Friday night.
Those killed come from at least 18 different countries, and include two French nationals.
Burkina Faso is to observe 72 hours of national mourning for the victims.
The siege at the Splendid Hotel was declared over after a joint operation by local and French security forces. 
At least four attackers died in the assaults. There were claims that some of those involved were women. 
As well as the luxury hotel, a cafe and another hotel nearby were targeted. The operation to take back the hotel lasted through the night and into the morning.
Burkina Faso forces free hostages from the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 16 January 2016.Image copyrightEPA
Image captionAbout 150 hostages were freed, Burkinabe officials say
A woman being led to safety in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Saturday Jan. 16, 2016Image copyrightAP
Image captionThe hotel is popular with UN workers and foreign residents of Burkina Faso
Bukinabe President Roch Kabore, who arrived at the scene on Saturday morning amid tight security, said at least 150 hostages had been liberated.
The French government said two of its nationals were killed in the assault, and one is known to be injured. French medical teams were providing support, and forensic officers were travelling to Ouagadougou, it added.
The UK's Foreign Office advised British nationals in Burkina Faso to avoid the area where the attack took place and monitor its travel advice.
In another development, the Burkina Faso government said a foreign doctor and his wife were kidnapped on Friday night in the north of the country, near the border with Mali. There was initial confusion over the pair's nationality - the Burkinabe government said they were Austrian, but later corrected this to Australian.
In November, an AQIM attack on a hotel in Bamako, capital of neighbouring Mali, left 19 people dead.

At the scene: Thomas Fessy, BBC Dakar correspondent

The area surrounding the Splendid Hotel has been cordoned off. Soldiers can still be seen walking in and out of the building but the siege is now over. 
At least three cars parked right outside the front door are completely charred, the remains of another two sit just across the street. Two burnt motorbikes lie in the middle. 
The light purple colour of the Splendid Hotel's front side now looks black, probably caused by the smoke generated by explosions. 
The Yibi hotel, opposite the Splendid, also shows signs of the attack, and the authorities say at least one attacker was killed inside the building.

Damaged vehicles outside the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 16 January 2016Image copyrightEPA
Image captionThe exterior of the Splendid Hotel was damaged by car bombs
A foreign soldier on a rooftop in Ouagadougou, 16 soldiersImage copyrightAnonymous
Image captionA foreign soldier could be seen on the roof of the hotel
Militants attacked the Splendid and the nearby Cappuccino cafe on Friday evening, setting off several explosions. Both places are popular with UN staff and foreigners.
Survivors described how the militants went from person to person, touching their bodies to see if they moved. 
"They started shooting, shooting, and everybody lay down on the ground," said Mariette, who escaped from the hotel with her younger sister.
"As soon as you lifted your head they would shoot straightaway, so you had to pretend to be dead. And they even came to touch our feet to check if we were alive. As soon as you were alive, they would shoot at you."

Background: Tomi Oladipo, BBC Africa security correspondent

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb grew from a remnant of a defunct rebel force, rooted in Algeria's civil war in the 1990s, into a wealthy and feared militant group that made its money from kidnapping Westerners and trafficking arms and drugs. 
In 2007 it announced it had joined the al-Qaeda network to fight against Western interests. Later though, some of its members left to form their own factions. The most notable of these was Mokhtar Belmokhtar who was behind the 2013 siege of a gas plant in Algeria.
In November 2015 Belmokhtar's faction said it had worked with its parent group to attack a hotel in Mali. That signalled the mending of relations between some of the factions to rebuild the original AQIM, which was being overshadowed by its rival, the so-called Islamic State. 
This latest attack in Burkina Faso would seem to be an attempt by AQIM not just to reinforce itself as the main jihadist group in the region, but also to show that it can spread its violent campaign to new frontiers.

Interior Minister Simon Compaore said 10 bodies had been found on the cafe terrace alone.
As the end of the siege at the Splendid was being announced, reports came in that militants had taken up position at the Yibi hotel, a short distance away. One attacker was killed at the Yibi, officials said later.
Remi Dandjinou, the Burkinabe communications minister, told the BBC earlier that between six and seven militants had attacked the Splendid, adding that they had been staying at the hotel as guests.
Mr Compaore said two black Africans and an Arab were among the militants killed.
A Burkinabe soldier in Ouagadougou, 16 JanuaryImage copyrightReuters
Image captionBurkinabe soldiers ringed the Splendid
French forces take up positions outside the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 16 January 2016.Image copyrightEPA
Image captionFrench forces also took part in the operation
French gendarmes tend to wounded people in the surrounding of the hotel Splendide and the café Cappuccino during the attack on January 15, 2016.Image copyrightAFP/Getty Images
Image captionFrench police officers helped tend to the wounded
Burkina Faso recently held its first presidential election since a coup earlier last year.
That coup toppled long-time leader Blaise Compaore, who had governed for 27 years.
Map of West Africa

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