International

At least 18 dead in Burkina Faso restaurant attack

Burkina-Faso

OUAGADOUGOU: More than 18 people, including at least eight foreigners were shot dead in a Turkish restaurant in Burkina Faso, officials said Monday, in the latest attack in West Africa to target a spot popular with expatriates.

There has been no claim of responsibility for Sunday night’s attack at the Aziz Istanbul restaurant, which was often packed with foreign nationals who went there to watch football.

Two attackers were killed by security forces in a counter-assault that left the streets echoing with gunfire until morning. Five members of the security forces were among 22 people wounded, prosecutor Maiza Sereme said.

Foreign Minister Alpha Barry told AFP the “terrorist” attack in the capital Ouagadougou killed seven locals and at least eight foreigners including a Frenchman, a Canadian woman, two Kuwaiti women and male victims from Senegal, Niger, Lebanon and Turkey.

Three others have yet to be identified, Sereme said.

Separately, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said two Canadians were among the casualties.

“They started shooting on the terrace. We climbed up the stairs and lay on the ground. The attackers came and pointed their guns at us,” said one survivor, interviewed in hospital on national television.

The restaurant is just 200 metres (220 yards) from a hotel and cafe targeted in an assault in January 2016 that left 30 people dead and 71 wounded, many of them foreigners. That attack was claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Sereme said the dead attackers were “very young”.

“They arrived at the scene of the crime on a motorbike,” she told a press conference. “Each of the terrorists was armed with an AK47. We found many cartridge clips at the scene, some of them empty and some of them still full.”

Forty people were freed in the counter-assault by security forces, she said.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore condemned the shooting as “a despicable attack that has Ouagadougou in mourning”.

The attack is the latest in the region targeting spots popular with foreigners and locals alike.

Last year’s assault on the Splendid hotel and Cappuccino restaurant, down the road from the Aziz Istanbul, came after militants claimed an attack on a hotel in the capital of neighbouring Mali that killed 20 people.

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