Westerners targeted in Burkina Faso

Investigators carrying a body bag out of the Splendid Hotel in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou. One survivor, a French architect known only as Ludovic, said he saw three assailants singling out white victims before running into the Splendid Hotel.
Investigators carrying a body bag out of the Splendid Hotel in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou. One survivor, a French architect known only as Ludovic, said he saw three assailants singling out white victims before running into the Splendid Hotel.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Al-Qaeda militants kept coming back to eatery to kill foreigners: Survivor

OUGADOUGOU • Al-Qaeda fighters singled out Westerners during last week's attack in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou.

They returned repeatedly to a restaurant popular with foreigners to kill the wounded, who were lying amid overturned tables and chairs, according to a survivor.

The survivor of the massacre at the Cappucino Cafe said diners at first mistook the gunfire and explosions on Friday night for firecrackers before two gunmen, dressed in black and brandishing AK-47 assault rifles, burst in, firing indiscriminately.

"We heard shots, grenades, detonations. It was echoing and extremely loud. It went on for a long time," the survivor, a Slovenian social anthropologist, told Reuters.

"They kept coming back and forth into Cappuccino. You'd think it was over, then they'd come back and shoot more people. They would come back and see if the white people were moving, and then, they would shoot them again," she said.

Another survivor, a French architect known only as Ludovic, who was at an outdoor bar near Cappuccino when the attacks started, said he saw three assailants singling out white victims before running into the Splendid Hotel.

Mr Cleement Sawadoago, a government minister, was in a fourth-floor meeting inside the hotel when he heard shots ring out.

He dropped to the ground and lay still as attackers entered the room, shooting two or three people, he said. He was still playing dead when one returned to shoot at the bodies, apparently to make sure that those who were on the floor were really dead. Somehow, Mr Sawadoago said, he was spared.

Mr Lucien Trabi, an arts manager from the Ivory Coast, was in the alfresco Taxi-Brousse bar across the street from the hotel to have a drink when "five militants, two of them women, walked by".

Though witnesses have spoken of seeing two women, Burkina Faso's Interior Minister Simon Compaore on Saturday night denied this, speaking only of "three men".

Mr Trabi said: "The landlady said, 'Why are they dressed like that?' They were wearing gloves and I saw a Kalashnikov. They passed us and went to the Cappuccino cafe. There, suddenly, they started spraying everyone with bullets. Above all, they were looking for expats."

Twenty-nine people were killed and 56 wounded in the attack. Thirteen of the victims were foreigners.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2016, with the headline 'Westerners targeted in Burkina Faso'. Print Edition | Subscribe