15 August 2017

Burkina Faso: Police Ends Operation Against Suspected Jihadists

Burkina Faso's security forces have ended their operation against suspected Islamic militants who opened fire on a restaurant in the country's capital, killing at least 18 people and wounding eight.

Officials say many of the victims were children dining with their families at the Aziz Istanbul restaurant, an upscale Turkish eatery. The attack began around 9 p.m. Sunday when two gunmen drove up on motorcycles and began indiscriminately shooting at the people inside.

Security forces launched a counter-assault that lasted most of the night which resulted in the two attackers being killed and all remaining hostages being freed.

Authorities say at least seven of the dead were citizens of Burkina Faso while many of the other victims were foreigners. State prosecutor Maizan Sereme said some of the victims came from Kuwait, Senegal, Nigeria, Turkey and France. Canada's Foreign Ministry said two Canadians were also among the dead.

At least five members of Burkina Faso' security forces were among the wounded.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said the raid was “a despicable attack that has Ouagadougou in mourning.”

In a Twitter message, the president said “The fight against terrorism is a long-term struggle.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said he discussed the attack in a phone call with Kabore on Monday. The leaders agreed that it was urgent to accelerate the deployment of a new multi-national military force to fight Islamist militants across the Sahel region. Burkina Faso is a former French colony.

The landlocked country, one of the poorest in the world, shares a remote northern border with Mali, a country that has long battled Islamic extremists.

In January 2016, an attack on a luxury hotel and a nearby cafe in Ouagadougou left 30 people dead. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for that attack.

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