The Latest: Italian bishop says Burkina Faso is worried
Jan. 16, 2016
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — The latest developments in the assault of a hotel by al-Qaida-linked gunmen in Burkina Faso's capital. All times are local:
An Italian bishop in Burkina Faso to deliver charity aid says that despite great worry life is returning to normal in that country's capital after al-Qaida-linked extremists attacked a luxury hotel and killed 23 people. Monsignor Pier Giorgio Debernardi told TV2000, an Italian Catholic channel, on Saturday that he and members of his charity mission decided to head to the airport when they heard the shooting. He said that while there was a curfew Friday night the airport seemed "the safest place" and they slept there after their flight to Paris was canceled.
Debernardi said life is returning "back to normal" in Ouagadougou, with people circulating in cars, on motorbikes or bikes. But he says "there is still great worry" amid the apparent calm with concern the attackers were aiming to destabilize the area.
France's Foreign Ministry says two French citizens are among the dead in the attack on a luxury hotel in Burkina Faso's capital by al-Qaida-linked extremists. The Foreign Ministry announced the deaths Saturday, hours after the end of the hostage siege. French President Francois Hollande described the attackers as "cowardly terrorists" and offered solidarity with the government. Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said earlier that 23 people died in the attack and four jihadist extremists were also killed by French and Burkina Faso security forces.
Burkina Faso's Minister of Security and Internal Affairs Simon Compaore says that the two foreigners kidnapped in the country's north are Australian, not Austrian as the ministry's spokeswoman had announced earlier. The Australian doctor and his wife who were kidnapped were abducted in Djibo, the capital of the northern Soum province. A journalist in the region said the Australian couple has lived there since 1972, volunteering in health services.
French President Francois Hollande confirmed that French special forces helped to end the attack on a hotel in Burkina Faso in which 23 people were killed as well as the four attackers. The French Foreign Ministry said forensic officers and medical teams are working at the site.
Hollande said that the extremists were trying to attack "our life, our spirit, our trust in the future, our hope that we represent a just and democratic society. We must continue, continue to live, to act, to raise our hope, notably for future generations."
Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond condemned the attack by Islamic extremists in Burkina Faso's capital in which 23 people were killed as well as four jihadist attackers. In a statement Hammond said the attack was "appalling" and said the United Kingdom "stands with President Kabore and the people of Burkina Faso in the fight against terrorism."
Hammond also advised British nationals in Burkina Faso to avoid the area where the attack took place and to follow travel advice offered by the British government.
Norway's foreign minister says the purpose of the deadly assault of a hotel by al-Qaida-linked gunmen in Burkina Faso's capital "apparently is to weaken the democratic process in the country."
In a statement to Norway's news agency NTB, Borge Brende said Saturday the "vulnerable" West African country has "just gotten its first democratically elected government." Brende said "it is important that the positive development we recently have seen continues" so Burkina Faso can "progress in the right direction."
At least 23 people have been killed, as well as four extremist attackers, when a deadly assault was launched on a hotel in the capital, Ouagadougou.
Denmark's Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen says Denmark will assess "with international partners" if it is safe for Denmark's Australian-born Crown Princess Mary and himself to travel to Burkina Faso later this month on an official visit.
Jensen says they will not travel "if there is a situation where we cannot guarantee the security of the crown princess."
He spoke Saturday after the deadly assault of a hotel by al-Qaida-linked gunmen in Ouagadougou. At least 23 people have been killed, as well as four extremist attackers.
The 43-year-old crown princess and Jensen are scheduled to travel to the West African country Jan. 24-26, to see firsthand the situation for women's rights and health, and Burkina Faso's democratic situation.
Also Saturday, Denmark's foreign ministry updated its travel advisory to warn Danes in Burkina Faso to stay away from public places.
In a separate development, Abi Ouattara, spokeswoman for Burkina Faso's ministry of security and internal affairs, says an Austrian doctor and his wife were kidnapped by extremists in the country's north near its border with Mali.
The spokeswoman said the jihadists abducted the two from the town of Baraboule in the Soum province in Burkina Faso's Sahel region.
The ministry did not have immediate information on how long the two had been in northern Burkina Faso, where they were doing volunteer work.
Burkina Faso's president says forces have killed a fourth extremist in a nearby hotel.
President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said Saturday that Burkina Faso and French forces killed the jihadist while searching the Hotel Yibi after ending the operation at the Splendid Hotel where they freed 126 people and killed three attackers.
He said two of the three attackers killed earlier Saturday have been identified as women.
Kabore also updated the death toll to at least 23 killed after extremists attacked a cafe and seized the hotel in Ouagadougou Friday night and held it until Saturday morning.
The spokesman for Burkina Faso's ministry of security and internal affairs says that 22 people were killed after al-Qaida-linked extremists seized a hotel in the capital.
Spokesman Abi Ouattara gave the toll after forces freed 126 people and killed three jihadis, ending the operation against the extremists at the Splendid Hotel and nearby cafe in Ouagadougou.
Burkina Faso's minister of security says 126 people have been freed and three jihadists killed in the operation against al-Qaida-linked extremists who seized a hotel in the capital.
Minister of Security and Internal Affairs Simon Compaore said Saturday that forces have retaken control of the Splendid Hotel and the Cappuccino Cafe. He said they are searching nearby hotels to be sure there are no other extremists hiding there.
He said 33 people have been wounded, and they are still determining the casualties.
Forces from Burkina Faso and France escorted more people from a luxury hotel in Burkina Faso's capital as they worked to take back the fire-blackened building. The rescuers exchanged heavy gunfire with al-Qaida militants who had seized the hotel the night before.
At least 10 bodies had been found amid the attack by Islamic extremists on a luxury hotel in the capital of Burkina Faso. Internal Affairs Minister Simon Compaore said that the 10 bodies were found inside the Cappuccino Cafe, a restaurant next to the Splendid Hotel. It is unclear how many people remain inside the hotel after dawn broke Saturday in Ouagadougou (wah-gah-DOO-goo).
An official at the Pentagon in Washington says one U.S. military member is embedded with French forces on the scene of the attack. The source tells AP there are about 75 U.S. troops in Burkina Faso: 15 assigned to the embassy and about 60 assisting the French military. The U.S. is working to help provide the France with surveillance and reconnaissance help.