Not less than 17 people have been killed inside a restaurant in what the government described as terrorist attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso capital.
Eye witnesses said that three gunmen arrived at a Turkish restaurant in a pickup van and open fire on the customers outside the restaurant on Sunday.
The government statement reads
“A terrorist attack at Istanbul restaurant on Ouagadougou Kwame Nkrumah Avenue claimed 17 victims, there nationalities are yet to be confirmed and 12 people have been injured”.
The Communication Minister, Remis Dandjinou, while responding to the news said it’s not clear how many assailants were involved.
“They are confined to one part of the building they attacked. Security and elite forces are conducting an operation,” he said on television.
A paramedic, who claimed anonymity said
“We evacuated 11 people but one of them, a Turk, died on arriving at hospital”.
Police evacuated civilians from the area before launching the counter-assault, with the heavy exchange of fire becoming more sporadic as the operation went on.
The Mayor of Ouagadougou and government Ministers were at the scene, he added.
Video footage posted on Twitter shows people fleeing, as shouting and gunshots are heard. Armed officers in uniform are then seen walking towards the attack site.
Burkina Faso, a poor landlocked nation bordering Mali and Niger, has seen a string of attacks claimed by militant groups in recent years.
In December 2016 a dozen soldiers were killed in an assault on their base in the North of the country. And in October that year there was an attack that killed four troops and two civilians. The worst of recent attack was an assault on a hotel and cafe in central Ouagadougou in January 2016 that killed 30 people including several foreigners.
Gunmen from the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) group attacked the Splendid hotel and the Cappuccino restaurant opposite, both popular with Westerners, sparking a protracted standoff with security forces. AQIM named the three gunmen responsible and published photos of them, dressed in military fatigues and wielding weapons.
There have also been kidnappings — of Burkinabes as well as foreigners. An Australian and a Romanian, abducted in 2015, are still being held hostage by Islamist groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda.