Burkina Faso: Local Troops Retake Hotel From Al-Qaeda Jihadis

It happened late Friday night. The Splendid Hotel in the Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou. Most people have never heard of it. It is, however, popular with westerners as a vacation spot who suddenly late last night found themselves under seige by al-Qaeda. Now, the Jerusalem Post is reporting that the siege has now ended, with 23 dead from over 18 countries. Last night's attack followed another last week claimed by the terrorist group, and has now been revealed that those responsible for the horrors of last night were females from the same group, according to NBS News. Local forces back by French gendarmes battle through the night and have retaken the hotel from the jihadi attackers, saving 126 hostages.

"We had just placed our meal orders in Cafe Cappucino and around fifteen minutes later we heard gunshots," said a French hostage to The Associated Press. The suddenness of the attack is expressed vividly in her account. She chose to remain unnamed:

"They started to shoot at everyone. We dropped to the ground and as soon as anyone raised their heads they fired at them immediately. We had to play dead. They shook people by the foot to see if they were alive or not, and, if they were alive, they shot them... When they went upstairs they set the place on fire and left via the roof. The room was completely on fire and it was impossible to breathe."
The U.S. Department of State and the embassy in Ouagadougou are making ongoing efforts to account for all American citizens in the city to see that they are safe. Washington has also released a statement expressing condolences for the victims of the attack.

Security minister, Simon Campaore, told reporters that four of the attackers were killed including one that managed to flee as far as another hotel.

The attacks last night are directly reminiscent of the November attacks on another hotel in Bamako, Mali in which 20 were killed from the nations of Russia, China, and the United States. Mali responded to the attack by sending reinforcements to support local forces.

AQIM, or the Islamic Meghreb, is an al Qaeda associated group who has claimed responsibility for the attacks. They have posed a major problem for public safety in the area and have shown high activity in recent months; a major change from the violence Burkina Faso has been previously spared from by Islamic terrorists. These attacks coincide with the November elections which brought new leaders into office.

The Inquisitr reported late last night.
"Despite the presence of French and American military in the region, the attack by the Al Qaeda affiliate illuminates the extent these terror groups are willing to go to in order to instill fear in Westerners that travel to the area."
Although the nationalities of the victims have not been released, two of them have been revealed to be Australian. Initial accounts stated that these two were Austrian, but U. S. News has confirmed that they did in fact originate from Australia. The two volunteer workers were kidnapped in the countries north.

Islamic Meghreb is led by a veteran Mujahideen fighter who cut his teeth during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Of Algerian origin, he goes by the name Mokhtar Belmokhtar. It is not clear as to whether or not Belmokhtar is alive or dead, he's been thought to have been killed many times, but the group claims that he is still alive.

[Photo: Sunday Alamba/Associated Press]