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Foreigners among dead in Burkina Faso jihadist attack

By AFP

Added 17th January 2016 06:48 AM

Burkina Faso became the latest country to be drawn into a regional jihadist battle against the West and its allies.

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Burkina Faso troops oversee the evacuation of bodies outside the Splendid hotel and the Cappuccino restaurant following a jihadist attack in Ouagadougou on January 16, 2016

Burkina Faso became the latest country to be drawn into a regional jihadist battle against the West and its allies.

 

Foreginers were among those killed in a jihadist attack on a top hotel in the Burkina Faso capital, the US State Department said Saturday, as the overall death toll rose to 29.

Of the 29 people dead, six were Canadians, two were French, two were Swiss and one was American.

"We extend our condolences to the family of Michael James Riddering, a US citizen killed in this violence," State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

Burkina Faso became the latest country to be drawn into a regional jihadist battle against the West and its allies when an unknown number of attackers stormed the four-star Splendid hotel in the heart of Ouagadougou Friday evening, turning the facility and surrounding area into a battleground.

Riddering was a charity worker based outside the city, and was in Ouagadougou picking up a team of missionaries, according to the Christian organization Sheltering Wings, which was affiliated with Riddering's work.

The organization said Riddering was meeting with a pastor at the Cappuccino restaurant near the hotel when it came under attack.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed the attack on behalf of an affiliate, according to a statement carried by US-based monitoring group SITE.

Forces retook the hotel and restaurant Saturday some 12 hours after the attack began.

The US, which has a small contingent in the country, said it supported French forces that were backing Burkina Faso's troops.

"Embassy personnel are in touch with local authorities as they continue to assess the situation and are working to assist all US citizens in the area," Kirby said.

"We stand with the Burkinabe people against terrorism and extremism. We will continue to support our partners in Africa to combat this shared and lethal threat," he added.

Riddering is survived by his wife Amy and four children, according to Sheltering Wings.

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