Thirty-three hostages, including a government official, were freed in Burkina Faso Saturday, hours after Islamist militants stormed a hotel in the nation's capital, according to officials and witnesses, NBC News reported.
Heavy gunfire erupted early Saturday as forces from Burkina Faso and France worked to overtake a luxury hotel that had been seized by al-Qaida militants the night before, seizing and killing an unknown number of hostages. At least 10 bodies had been found in the aftermath so far, a government minister said, according to The Associated Press.
Clement Sawadogo, Burkina Faso's minister of public service, labour and social security, were among those freed and taken to a hospital, Remis Dandjinou, the country's communications minister, said on Twitter at 4 a.m. local time.
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A death toll in the attack on the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou was not immediately known. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attack, SITE Intelligence Group reported.
A witness, journalist Jean-Baptiste Dipama, said he saw as many as six attackers, split up in two groups of three and driving two 4x4 vehicles with license plates from Niger. One group attacked the hotel and the other targeted a nearby cappuccino restaurant, he said.