Terror deepens in Burkina Faso

A terrorist attack in the West African country, Burkina Faso, has resulted in the deaths of at least 20 people with many more injured. Gunmen reportedly opened fire at a Turkish..

A terrorist attack in the West African country, Burkina Faso, has resulted in the deaths of at least 20 people with many more injured.

Gunmen reportedly opened fire at a Turkish restaurant at Ouagadougou, the country’s capital. 

Background

Burkina Faso which used to be a French colony got its independence in 1960. Even though it has large reserves of gold, the region is extremely poor even by West African standards. An unstable region, it has witnessed many military coups. It used to be called Republic of Upper Volta but renamed "Burkina Faso" in 1984 by then-President Thomas Sankara. Blaise Compaoré seized power from Sankara but was also ousted in 2014 due to an uprising.

There are frequent droughts in the nation. There has also been an uptick in terror attacks by Islamist militants. In January 2016, militants attacked a hotel and over 30 people died. Western tourists were among those who were killed. In December 2016, 12 soldiers died as a result of a militant attack. In March 2017, there were two separate incidents carried out by Islamist militants.

Analysis

According to media reports, two assailants reportedly arrived at the restaurant, Aziz Istanbul, on a motorcycle at 9pm. They opened fire with Kalashnikovs at the patrons who had been seated outside the restaurant. The state authorities have called it a terror attack but no group yet has taken responsibility.

BBC quoted an eye witness as saying, “I saw there were multiple trucks or jeeps driving through my street, with... local army/police officers with AK47s, deploying in front of my house. I heard a lot of shootings and then I was scared as hell and I went inside. I've been hearing quite a bit of shooting."

For a period, a number of patrons were trapped inside the restaurant as the shooting commenced. In total, 20 have been killed and at least 8 have been injured. The restaurant is a popular haunt for foreigners and tourists. A Turkish citizen is among those who were killed. Authorities have not yet confirmed whether citizens of other countries were among the casualties.

The restaurant is not far from the hotel where the January 2016 attack took place.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that he will be discussing the situation with Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Kabore.

Assessment

Our assessment is that with widespread poverty, the region has become a hotbed for instability and terrorism. This attack was likely carried out by one of the active affiliates of al Qaeda. 

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