Sixty-three hostages, including 33 wounded, were evacuated in the early hours of Saturday from a Burkina Faso hotel besieged by al Qaeda-linked gunmen, communication minister Remis Dandjinou said. "There are some dead but we don't have the numbers. The assault is ongoing with the Burkinabe forces supported by French special forces," Dandjinou told AFP, adding that amongst those rescued was labour minister Clement Sawadogo.
At least 20 people have been killed in the Qaeda attack. The attack comes less than two months after a jihadist hostage siege at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in the Malian capital Bamako in November, in which 20 people died including 14 foreigners. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attack, according to US-based monitoring group SITE.
The "mujahideen brothers" of AQIM "broke into a restaurant of one of the biggest hotels in the capital of Burkina Faso, and are now entrenched and the clashes are continuing with the enemies of the religion", SITE quoted the group as saying. Burkina Faso is part of the G5 Sahel grouping that counts the fight against terrorism as part of its remit.