Security forces from France and Burkina Faso ended a siege on a luxury hotel in Burkina Faso’s capital on Saturday morning. It all began Friday night when Islamist militants tied to al-Qaida attacked the Splendid Hotel and a nearby café in Burkina Faso’s capital of Ouagadougou. At least 27 people from 18 different nationalities were killed in the attack, reports the Guardian. Security forces killed three jihadis in the hotel and freed at least 126 hostages, including 33 who were wounded. Another militant was killed in a nearby hotel.
President Roch Marc Christian said on national radio that two of the three attackers had been identified as women in what was the country’s first major attack by al-Qaida. The hotel siege seems to mark “an expansion of operations for Islamist militants who are forging new alliances and stepping up their activities, echoing the growth of Islamic State in the Middle East,” notes Reuters.
The siege was also part of a trend in recent days. The New York Times explains:
The attack, claimed by the Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb affiliate along with an allied militant group, was at least the fifth time in recent days that armed militants had ambushed unprotected civilians in cities around the world, hitting sites in Turkey, Egypt, Indonesia and Iraq with deadly assaults that underscored the vulnerabilities of soft targets that are difficult to defend.
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb quickly claimed responsibility for the attack saying it was “revenge against France and the disbelieving west”, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. The militant group said the attack had been carried out as a declaration of unity with Al-Mourabitoun, an Algerian group led by militant Moktar Belmoktar. These are the same two groups who claimed responsibility for the November attack on a hotel in Mali’s capital.