AVOID BURKINA FASO

Burkina Faso is religiously diverse society with Islam being the dominant religion. According to recent census (2006) conducted by Government of Burkina Faso, 60.5% of the population adheres to Islam. The vast majority of Muslims in Burkina Faso are Malikite Sunni, deeply influenced with Sufism. The Shi'a branch of Islam also has small presence in the country. A significant number of Sunni Muslims identify with the Tijaniyah Sufi order. The Government also estimated that 23.2% practices Christianity (19.0% being Roman Catholic, 4.2% being Protestant), 15.3% follow Animism i.e., African Traditional Religion, 0.6% have other religions and 0.4% have none. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.


Suspected jihadists kill 18 in attack on Burkina Faso restaurant

Thiam Ndiaga
August 13, 2017

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - Suspected Islamist militants killed at least 18 people and wounded several during a raid on a restaurant in Burkina Faso's capital overnight, but security forces shot dead both attackers and freed people trapped inside the building.

"This is a terrorist attack," Communications Minister Remi Dandjinou told a news conference on Monday.

Burkina Faso, like other countries in West Africa, has been targeted sporadically by jihadist groups. Most attacks have been along its remote northern border with Mali, which has seen activity by Islamist militants for more than a decade.

A Reuters witness saw customers running out of the Aziz Istanbul restaurant in central Ouagadougou as police and paramilitary gendarmerie surrounded it, amid gunfire.

Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said two Canadians were among the dead and French Foreign Affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said a French citizen was killed.

Lebanon's interior ministry said three Lebananese died, including one who was also a Canadian national.

Earlier, Burkina Faso Foreign Affairs Minister Alpha Barry said at a news conference that seven Burkinabes, two Kuwaitis, a Nigerian, a Senegalese and a Turk were also among at least 18 killed.

French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the situation with Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Kabore, his office said, including the role of a new multinational military force aimed at fighting Islamist militants across the vast Sahel region of Africa.

A woman said she was in the restaurant celebrating her brother's birthday when the shooting started.

"I just ran but my brother was left inside," she told Reuters TV as she fled the building.

For many it was a grim echo of a similar attack on a restaurant and hotel in Ouagadougou in January 2016 in which 30 people were killed. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility.

AQIM and related Islamist groups were largely confined to the Sahara desert until they hijacked a rebellion by ethnic Tuareg separatists in Mali in 2012, and then swept south.

French forces intervened the following year to prevent them taking Mali's capital, Bamako, but they have since gradually expanded their reach across the region, launching high-profile attacks in Bamako, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, as well as much more frequent, smaller attacks on military targets.

Gunmen attacked a U.N. peacekeeping base in Mali's northern city of Timbuktu on Monday, the peacekeeping mission said, adding that it had deployed a rapid response force with helicopters to the scene.

In another incident on Monday, armed men opened fire on U.N. peacekeepers and Malian troops in Douentza, central Mali, killing a Malian soldier, according to Malian authorities. A peacekeeper was also killed, a U.N. spokesman in New York said.

A new al Qaeda-linked alliance of Malian jihadist groups claimed an attack in June that killed at least five people at a luxury Mali resort popular with Western expatriates just outside Bamako.

"I am speechless," Abdoulaye Bance said on a street near the Ouagadougou restaurant, where shops and banks were shuttered up and traffic light.

"It is not the first time this is happening in our country. There are many victims. There is a feeling of despair."

African nations launched a new multinational military force last month to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel region, a huge band of territory that fringes the Sahara desert and stretches right across North Africa. However, the force will not be operational until later this year and currently faces a budget shortfall.

Macron's office said he and Kabore agreed it was "imperative" to speed up the force's implementation.

"They will have further contact with each other in the coming days, as well as with other regional heads of state over the progress of this plan," it said in a statement.

Some observers see the initiative by Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad as forming the basis of an eventual exit strategy for around 4,000 French troops now deployed to the volatile region. But Macron said Paris had no plans to withdraw them.


At least 23 dead, scores freed after hotel siege

By Faith Karimi and Sandra Betsis
January 16, 2016

(CNN)Attackers raided a luxury hotel in Burkina Faso overnight, shooting some and taking others hostage in a siege that lasted hours and ended with dozens of people dead.

An al Qaeda-linked terrorist group claimed responsibility for the assault at Splendid Hotel -- a popular meeting place for Western diplomats in the capital, Ouagadougou.
       
The attack began Friday night and dragged on under the cover of darkness. Security forces circled the perimeter to assess the situation before they stormed in hours later.

"Everyone was panicked and was lying down on the floor. There was blood everywhere, they were shooting at people at point blank," said Yannick Sawadogo, who survived the siege.

Security forces entered the hotel early Saturday and freed 126 hostages, half of whom were hospitalized, according to Burkina Faso's foreign minister, Alpha Barry.

Security Minister Simon Compaore said 23 people from 18 countries had been killed. Gilles Thibault, France's ambassador to Burkina Faso, said 27 were dead.

Two French nationals were among the dead, CNN affiliate BFMTV reported, citing the French Foreign Ministry.

It was unclear whether either death toll included the four attackers -- including two women -- that Compaore said were killed.

Thibault said three attackers died, and none of them were women.

Survivors described horrific scenes as the attackers paced and fired in the hotel Friday night.

"We could hear them talking and they were walking around and kept shooting at people who seemed alive," Sawadogo told CNN affiliate BFMTV.

Sawadogo said he escaped through a broken window, and could barely see because of smoke.

Burkinabe forces scoured rooms at the hotel, looking for terrorists and any remaining hostages. Those rescued included a government minister, state media reported.

The West African nation's forces received logistical support from American and French troops. Shortly after the forces stormed the hotel, the sounds of gunshots faded.

The attack in Burkina Faso appeared well-planned, with some of the attackers coming to the hotel during the day and mingling with guests, the foreign minister said.

When darkness fell, more attackers joined them, he said.

Before the hotel assault, they attacked the Cappuccino café across the street, which had about 100 people, according to the state broadcaster.

They then took off to the Splendid Hotel, where they seized hostages.

Witnesses said the attackers wore turbans and spoke a language not native to Burkina Faso, a former French colony.

U.S. forces helped with logistical support. The United States has about 75 military personnel in Burkina Faso, including 15 assigned to the U.S. Embassy, according to a U.S. defense official. An additional 60 help train and advise the French military in the nation.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the assault, local media reported. CNN could not independently confirm that claim.

The al Qaeda-linked Al-Mourabitoun said it conducted the attack, which had similarities to the one in neighboring Mali in November.

Al-Mourabitoun had claimed responsibility for the November attack at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali, which left 22 people dead.

The group's leader is veteran al Qaeda figure Mokhtar Belmokhtar, according to the Mauritania-based Al Akhbar news agency.

In June, Libya's interim government reported that he died in an American airstrike.

The attack comes a few months after Burkina Faso marked a turning point following a historic presidential election.

Burkina Faso elected a new president in November after nearly three decades of autocratic rule followed by a civil uprising.

Roch Marc Christian Kabore, the nation's former prime minister, won more than 53% of votes in that election.

Elections were postponed the month before because of a failed coup against the transitional government.

The West, particularly France, considers Burkina Faso a key ally in the fight against al Qaeda.

French President Francois Hollande said he stands with the nation against the "odious and cowardly attack."

The U.S. Embassy condemned the attack, describing it as a " senseless assault on innocent people."

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