Gun Attack Kills 18 In Burkina Faso

At least 18 people were killed and several others injured following an attack by gunmen at a cafe in the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou.

According to a government statement, at least eight foreigners and seven locals were among those killed in the attack, which occurred at the Aziz Istanbul cafe on Sunday evening.

President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré condemned the shooting as a “cowardly terror attack”, saying the people of Burkina Faso would not give in to terrorism.

The gunmen were believed to have been jihadists, and opened fire on customers sat on the cafe’s terrace before making their way inside the building. Two of the attackers were killed in a siege which lasted into the early hours of Monday morning.

The foreign victims have been identified as two Kuwaitis, and one each from Canada, France, Lebanon, Nigeria, Senegal and Turkey, Burkina Faso’s Foreign Minister Alpha Barry said.

Barry said that there were three victims that had not yet been identified. Canada’s foreign minister was quoted as saying two Canadians had died in the attack.

There are concerns that the perpetrators of the attack are militants affiliated with al-Qaeda that operate in the region, under the name al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The Aziz Istanbul cafe is located just a few hundred metres along Kwame Nkrumah Avenue from a hotel and cafe that was attacked in January 2016 by al-Qaeda militants, where 30 people were killed and a further 170 taken hostage during a siege.

A terror attack in the Sahel had been expected, with additional police blocks and security being established in Burkina Faso’s capital prior to this attack. Similar additional security measures were also taken in neighbouring Mali, where rural regions have suffered from instability and insurgency in recent times.

Whilst these efforts failed to prevent the attack in Ouagadougou, it shows progress being made by the intelligence-gathering elements of the UN’s Minusma mission in the region.

That, along with the fact that France is spearheading fundraising for a regional anti-terror force, the G5 Sahel, which will draw from the armies of Mauritania, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, suggests that efforts to help stabilise the region and help counteract and prevent future terror attacks are beginning to come into effect.

The G5  Sahel force being promoted by France will not be operational until later this year, when the region will be seen as being far better defended against insurgency and terrorism than it has ever previously been.

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Categories: Africa, Burkina Faso, The Wire, World

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