Al-Qaeda names 3 gunmen involved in Burkina Faso hotel attacks

Burned cars sit outside the damaged facade of the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on Jan 17, 2016.
Burned cars sit outside the damaged facade of the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on Jan 17, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

PARIS (AFP) - Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) on Monday (Jan 18) named three gunmen who killed at least 29 people in an attack on a top hotel in Burkina Faso, including several foreigners.

AQIM said the hotel attacked on Friday night, the four-star Splendid Hotel, was "one of the most dangerous dens of global espionage in the west of the African continent", according to a statement carried by United States-based monitoring group SITE.

The three gunmen were identified in the statement as Battar al-Ansari, Abu Muhammad al-Buqali al-Ansari and Ahmed al-Fulani al-Ansari.

AQIM also published photos of the three young men dressed in military fatigues and wielding weapons.

The operation, claimed by AQIM in the early hours of Saturday morning while the attack was still ongoing, was a "drop in the sea of global jihad", the statement said.

In their earlier statement, AQIM said the gunmen were from the Al-Murabitoun group of notorious Algerian extremist Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

The authorities in Burkina Faso have already said that the bodies of three assailants had been identified.

However, several witnesses said they saw more than three attackers and a manhunt is still underway for accomplices.

The Burkinabe authorities have given differing tolls for the number of foreigners killed - either 14 or 15, depending on the source.

Highlighting the fragile security situation, an elderly Australian couple were kidnapped on Friday in Burkina Faso's northern Baraboule region, near the border with Niger and Mali.