As Burkina Faso comes to terms with the horrors of a terror attack that took place in an area popular with Westerners and French soldiers in the capital Ouagadougou, victims of the attack recount the tragic events.
The attackers stormed the Splendid Hotel and the nearby Cappuccino cafe.
According to eye witnesses, two gunmen, dressed in black and brandishing AK-47 assault rifles, burst into the hotel and began firing indiscriminately.
‘It was a night of horror,’ said Lucien Travi, who was near the Splendid Hotel where the attack took place.
One Cappuccino cafe survivor said diners at first mistook the gunfire for explosions which erupted at around 8:30 p.m.
The attackers torched cars and fired in the air to drive people back on Friday before entering the Splendid Hotel and taking hostages.
Until Friday’s attack, the landlocked nation, an ally of Western governments against jihadist groups in the arid reaches of the southern Sahara, had largely been spared the violence that has plagued its neighbours.
“I am taking this opportunity to salute our security forces, the doctors and the Red Cross and all the good people who participated in this. We will very soon be able to provide the full picture but we call on the public to be vigilant and courageous because now we need to fight and integrate against terrorism as our daily struggle to develop the country,” said Burkina Faso President, Roch Marc Christian Kabore.
The French government announced on Saturday that two French citizens were among the dead. Paris pledged to send forensic experts to help investigate the attack, and a French court opened an investigation for murder and attempted murder.
So far, security officials in Burkina Faso have confirmed that at least 29 people of 18 nationalities were killed in the attack by Al-Qaeda-linked militants.
The assault follows a similar raid in November on a luxury hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako which killed 20 people, including citizens of Russia, China and the United States and marks a major escalation of Islamist militancy in West Africa.