Burkina Faso hotel attacked by al-Qaida catches fire

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Peopel gather on Kwame Nkruma avenu near Hotel Splendid where the attackers remain with sporadic gunfire continuing in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou on January 15, 2016. Attackers have killed "several people" at a restaurant opposite a four-star hotel where the assailants are holed up, a restaurant staff member told AFP. / AFP / AHMED OUOBA (Photo credit should read AHMED OUOBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Peopel gather on Kwame Nkruma avenu near Hotel Splendid where the attackers remain with sporadic gunfire continuing in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou on January 15, 2016. Attackers have killed “several people” at a restaurant opposite a four-star hotel where the assailants are holed up, a restaurant staff member told AFP. / AFP / AHMED OUOBA (Photo credit should read AHMED OUOBA/AFP/Getty Images)

(9:02 PM EST) OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Witnesses say the upscale hotel in Burkina Faso’s capital that has been attacked by al-Qaida militants has now caught fire. The blaze began after commandos trying to free an unknown number of hostages used explosives to enter the building.

Security forces stormed the building more than five hours after it was attacked by jihadists. A fire then broke out in the hall of the Splendid Hotel, and the flames then began spreading inside and out.

Several cars outside the hotel also were engulfed in flames after the attackers set them on fire when they launched their assault.

It was not immediately known how many people may have been killed during the siege, though a survivor told hospital director Robert Sangare he estimated the toll could be as high as 20.

 

(7:00 PM EST) OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Witnesses in Burkina Faso’s capital say gunfire has erupted near an upscale hotel in the city center and explosions can be heard.

An Associated Press reporter near the scene said late Friday that several cars were also ablaze outside the four-story Splendid Hotel in downtown Ouagadougou.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, though jihadists have attacked hotels before in neighboring Mali, including a devastating attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in November that left 20 people dead.

While Burkina Faso has largely been spared the violence wracked by Islamic extremist groups in Mali, a Romanian national was abducted last April.

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