It is the first attack of its kind in Burkina Faso. An attack on a major hotel in the capital, hostages taken and at least 20 people killed as the military backed by French forces battle to retake the hotel. Shortly before 09h00 on Saturday morning, the siege ended, but then a second hotel was attacked. Here are five things you need to know about the ongoing crisis.
1. On Friday, an unknown number of gunmen stormed the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, in an attack for which Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility. The hotel has 146 rooms and said to have around 300 guests at the time. The hotel is often used by French troops on missions to combat armed groups in the Sahel region.
2. It is the first time such an attack has been carried out in Burkina Faso.
3. According to the New York Times, a French journalist on the scene said she heard intermittent gunfire after soldiers entered the vicinity and that “several hostages had been freed.” According to media reports, at least 126 hostages have been released, including a government minister.
— Tommy Miles (@tommymiles) January 16, 2016
4. It is still not clear why the hotel was targeted, though there have been a number of suggestions and reports making the rounds.
Latest AQIM statement indicates the hotel was targeted because it was “frequented by staff of the nations of global disbelief”
— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) January 16, 2016
5. Burkina Faso, a religiously diverse nation, has a population of around 60 percent Muslims. The country has endured political turmoil since October 2014 when longtime President Blaise Compaore was overthrown during mass protests. The attack presents a stiff test for President Roch Marc Kabore, who was elected in November as Burkina Faso’s first new leader in decades.
And of course:
If whats happening in #BurkinaFaso now was happening in a western capital like London or Paris, there would be round the clock live coverage
— Yousef Munayyer (@YousefMunayyer) January 16, 2016
This story will be updated.