Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Three days of mourning begin after al-Qaida attack

Published:Monday | January 18, 2016 | 1:00 AM
Forensic workers wear protective gear and examine burnt out cars outside the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso yesterday

Burkina Faso began three days of national mourning Sunday and the president said security would be stepped up in the capital and the country's borders after al-Qaida militants killed at least 28 people in an attack on a hotel and cafe popular with foreigners.

In a message to the nation, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said the people of Burkina Faso must unite in the fight against terrorism. He also announced on the national broadcaster, Burkina 24, that security forces would be stepping up their efforts to thwart future attacks and asked people to comply with the new restrictions.

"These truly barbaric criminal acts carried out against innocent people, claimed by the criminal organisation al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) seek to destabilise our country and its republican institutions, and to undermine efforts to build a democratic, quiet and prosperous nation," said Kabore.

The national mourning began Sunday, a day after Burkinabe and French forces ended a more than 12-hour siege at the upscale Splendid Hotel in downtown Ouagadougou. When the gunfire and explosions finally stopped, authorities said 18 were killed in the hotel and 10 were killed at the nearby Cappuccino Cafe.

Among the victims was a Ukrainian woman who was co-owner of the cafe with her Italian husband, Gaetano Santomenna, according to Ukrainian officials. Although Santomenna was not at the cafe and survived the attack, the couple's son, Michel Santomenna, 9, was killed, according to the Italian foreign ministry. Italy's foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, called the child's death "a horrendous crime," in a tweet which also expressed sympathy with the boy's father.

- AP