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06 December 2023

Burkina Faso hotel attack gunmen named

By Agencies

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) on Monday named three gunmen behind a deadly attack on a top Burkina Faso hotel that has highlighted the growing reach of jihadist groups in west Africa, as French police joined in the probe.

Burkinabe troops fanned out across the capital, Ouagadougou, with security stepped up at key sites as visiting Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi pledged that west African nations would fight back against a mounting terrorist threat.

The toll from the weekend attack rose to 30 late Monday with the death of French-Moroccan photographer Leila Alaoui, Morocco's MAP news agency reported.

She was severely wounded when gunmen stormed the Splendid hotel and the nearby Cappuccino cafe she was visiting on Friday evening.

Alaoui, who has had several international exhibitions of her work, was on assignment in Burkina for Amnesty International.

A source close to the investigation said 20 people were arrested on Sunday and Monday in connection with the attack, which killed more than a dozen foreigners. Some of those arrested were later released.

Boni Yayi, speaking on behalf of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States, said: "We're not going to just sit on our hands. We will react and respond".

He spoke as details emerged about a delayed, ill-equipped response from Burkina Faso's security forces, which have been weakened by recent political turmoil.

Twenty five of the victims have now been identified, public prosecutor Maiza Sereme told AFP, confirming that six Canadians and eight locals were among the victims.

Internal Security Minister Simon Compaore earlier said the foreign dead also included three Ukrainians, two French nationals, two Portuguese, two Swiss and a Dutch person.

The US State department has said an American also died.