Al Qaeda names fighters behind deadly Burkina Faso attack
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Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) on Monday identified three fighters it says were responsible for attacks in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou over the weekend that killed 29 people.
Gunmen from the Islamist militant group stormed the Cappuccino restaurant and the Splendid Hotel on Friday night, singling out white people for slaughter. Eight Burkinabes, six Canadians, three Ukrainians and two French people were killed, among others.
In a statement, AQIM named the three attackers as al-Battar al-Ansari, Abu Muhammad al-Buqali al-Ansari and Ahmed al-Fulani al-Ansari, according to SITE Intelligence group. Al-Ansari is a nom de guerre that usually designates somebody from northern Mali, although it might just indicate where the brigade is based or originates from.
The statement included a picture of the three apparently adolescent “heroes” in beige fatigues carrying Kalashnikovs. Two were black and another, smiling faintly, was light-skinned, suggesting he might be from an Arab or Tuareg group.
The streets of Ouagadougou were unusually quiet on Monday in a country unaccustomed to the frequent jihadist attacks that have plagued its Western neighbour Mali. AQIM also claimed a similar attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako in November that killed 20 people.
Burkina Faso’s new government, named just days ago following a year-long transition period punctuated by unrest, has declared three days of national mourning.
In another sign that a regional Islamist insurgency is intensifying, an elderly Australian doctor and his wife were abducted over the weekend by unknown assailants in northern Burkina Faso near the Malian border.
Thousands of people on Facebook have joined a campaign for their release.
The French ambassador to Burkina Faso, Gilles Thibault, told journalists it would be a surprise if the different attacks on the same day were not linked in some way. Leaders from Burkina and Mali have agreed to work more closely to fight jihadists by sharing intelligence and conducting joint security patrols.
Neighbouring Benin’s President Thomas Boni Yayi arrived in the capital on Monday to offer his condolences to President Roch Marc Kabore, and said the West African regional bloc ECOWAS would hold an emergency summit to discuss the issue.