Gunmen in Burkina Faso have attacked a hotel used by westerners in the capital Ouagadougou, taking hostages and reportedly killing at least 20 people.
Quoting eyewitnesses, the BBC reported that two car bombs went off outside the Splendid hotel at aroundifferent 1 am IST.
Three to four masked men then stormed the Splendid Hotel, which is used by UN staff and westerners.
Robert Sangare, a hospital director in the city, said at least 20 people had died and 15 more wounded.
The Cappuccino cafe-restaurant nearby has also been targeted, a witness said, with gunfire resuming after a lull of more than an hour.
One civilian was shot and killed in the latest round of gunfire, a witness told Reuters, after medical personnel earlier evacuated those who had been wounded.
According to the SITE intelligence group, al Qaeda of Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for the attack.
A US defence official said one US military member is providing “advice and assistance” to French forces at the hotel.
Photojournalist Marina Spironetti, who is on the scene, told Britain’s Sky News: “We know that there are still some cars burning and police are all around the hotel and in the proximity of the cafe.”
Burkina Faso, a largely Muslim country, has endured bouts of political turmoil since 2014 when veteran President Blaise Compaore was overthrown in a popular protest.
An Air France flight from Paris to Ouagadougou was diverted to neighbouring Niger.
The hotel is sometimes used by French troops with Operation Barkhane, a force based in Chad and set up to combat Muslim militants across Africa’s vast, arid Sahel region.
(Photo: courtesy BBC)