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(RT News) - An ongoing hostage situation is being reported at a hotel in the city center of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, after at least three armed turbaned men began shooting at a restaurant and a hotel frequently used by Westerners and UN staff.
Two groups of security forces began an assault to neutralize the situation at the hotel, Reuters quoted a witness as saying. Both groups entered the hotel lobby, according to the witness. No gunfire has been heard, but the lobby was on fire.
Security forces have been able to lead 12 hostages out of the hotel so far, local radio station Omega reported. “At 1:20 am [local time] 12 people were led out from the ‘Splendid’ Hotel, including five women,” the radio station said. The Red Cross is reportedly taking care of the freed hostages.
|Islamist terrorists burned cars|
Some 100-150 people are believed to have been in the hotel and restaurant at the time of the attack, according to witnesses speaking to media.
At least 20 people have been killed and 15 others injured in the ongoing attack, AFP quoted the head of Yalgado Ouedraogo hospital, Robert Sangare, as saying.
“For the dead, we do not have a precise figure, but there are at least 20 dead,” Sangare said. “We have had at least 15 wounded with bullet wounds and others who suffered injuries during the panic to escape.”
The gunmen first attacked a restaurant, which is located across from the hotel and owned by a Ukrainian national, Russia’s Honorary Council in Burkina Faso, Anna Rachina-Kulibali, told TASS.
Rachina said that there are foreign nationals among the dead, adding that is still unknown whether any of the victims were Russian.
“There are foreigners [among the dead], possibly Europeans and locals.”American and French soldiers have reportedly arrived on the scene, according to local reporters who tweeted out pictures of special forces gathering by the hotel.
One of the hostages could be a Burkina Faso government minister, France 24 reported on air. Burkina Faso’s law enforcement is planning a counter-assault, which may involve the help of foreign forces, according to the channel.
Terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to SITE Intelligence Group.Suspected Islamist fighters stormed the hotel, burning cars and firing into the air, Reuters reported, citing witnesses and police sources. Security forces that arrived at the scene were involved in an intense exchange of gunfire with attackers.
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