Suspected Islamist militants have killed at least 18 people and wounded several others 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 Lebanese 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.