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French-Moroccan photographer shot in Burkina attack dies from wounds

Othman Zine | Photographer Leila Alaoui died in hospital on January 18

French-Moroccan photographer Leila Alaoui, who was injured in Friday’s terror attack in Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou, died of her wounds on Monday night.


Her death raises the toll from the bloody attack, which has been claimed by al Qaeda’s North African branch, to 30.

The 33-year-old photographer was in Burkina Faso on assignment for Amnesty International, where she was working on a project titled: “My body, my rights.”

Alaoui was severely wounded when jihadist gunmen stormed the Splendid hotel and the nearby Cappuccino cafe she was visiting on Friday evening.

“She died at 9:15 pm (local time is GMT) on Monday night in an Ouagadougou clinic after suffering a cardiac arrest,” the Moroccan embassy in Ouagadougou said in a statement. “Her body will be flown to Morocco as soon as the necessary procedures have been completed.”

“Laila was hit in the lungs, abdomen, arm, leg and kidney by the terrorists’ bullets,” Alaoui’s mother Christine said in a statement on Monday before the news her daughter had died.

“She was operated on for six hours and received excellent care from the Burkinabe doctors and nurses at the Notre Dame de la Paix Hospital,” she added.

A chauffeur who was accompanying her was killed outright during the attack. Amnesty International was able to identify his body on Monday.

Amnesty spokeswoman Samira Daoud told FRANCE 24 that the photographer had found herself “at the wrong place and the wrong time”.

Praising Alaoui’s work, she said: “She had already taken some fantastic pictures. She was perfect for this work, confident and discreet at the same time. Being a woman she was able to enter a meaningful dialogue with her subjects.”

Leila Alaoui was born in Paris in 1982 and grew up in Marrakesh, Morocco, before studying photography and sociology in New York.

In recent years she split her time between Lebanon and Morocco. Her latest exhibition of photographs, titled “Moroccans”, is on display at the Maison Européene de la Photographie in Paris, in partnership with the Paris-based Arab world Institute.

Her work avoids the clichés defined by Orientalist Edward Saïd as “the East as defined by the West”, putting forward instead the pride and dignity of her subjects.

Her latest exhibition is a series of portraits of men and women in traditional dress.

“This series bears witness to a cultural diversity that is at risk of extinction,” she told FRANCE 24 in November.

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