Suspected militants attack Burkina Faso restaurant, killing 18

Onlookers offering help to a wounded restaurant customer following an attack on Sunday night by gunmen on the Istanbul restaurant in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Turkey said one of its citizens was among the dead, while Paris prosecutors said at least
Onlookers offering help to a wounded restaurant customer following an attack on Sunday night by gunmen on the Istanbul restaurant in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Turkey said one of its citizens was among the dead, while Paris prosecutors said at least one French national died in the shooting.PHOTO: REUTERS

OUAGADOUGOU (Burkina Faso) • Suspected militants killed at least 18 people and wounded several others during a Sunday raid on a restaurant in Burkina Faso's capital, but security forces shot dead two attackers and freed people trapped inside the building.

"This is a terrorist attack," Communications Minister Remi Dandjinou said yesterday.

He said the 18 victims were of different nationalities, both Burkinabes and foreigners.

A surgeon at the city's Yalgado Ouedraogo hospital said it was overwhelmed.

"We have received about a dozen wounded, including three who have died. The condition of the other wounded is critical," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The security operation "has ended" but searches are continuing in buildings in the Ouaga- dougou neighbourhood around the restaurant, Mr Dandjinou said.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore condemned Sunday's attack as "a despicable attack that has Ouagadougou in mourning".

"The fight against terrorism is a long-term struggle," he said in a Twitter message.

A police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, cited witnesses as saying at least two assailants arrived on a motorcycle at around 9pm on Sunday, armed with Kalashnikovs, and opened fire in the Istanbul restaurant.

A waiter reported that he saw "three men arriving on a 4x4 vehicle at around 9.30pm, getting off the vehicle and opening fire on customers seated on the terrace".

Mr Dandjinou had earlier said "some people were held" by the assailants and "some were released", but gave no further details.

Turkey said one of its citizens was among the dead, while Paris prosecutors said at least one French national died in the shooting, which French President Emmanuel Macron condemned as a "terrorist attack".

Video footage posted on Twitter showed people fleeing as shouting and gunshots are heard.

Armed officers in uniform are then seen walking towards the site of the attack.

Burkina Faso, a poor landlocked nation bordering Mali and Niger, has seen a string of attacks claimed by militant groups in recent years.

The Istanbul restaurant attacked on Sunday is just 200m from a hotel and cafe targeted in an assault in January last year that left 30 people dead and 71 wounded, many of them foreigners.

That attack was claimed by the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb group.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2017, with the headline 'Suspected militants attack Burkina Faso restaurant, killing 18'. Print Edition | Subscribe