Hundreds pay homage to Burkina jihadist attack victims

Monday January 25 2016

French gendarmes tend to wounded people in the surrounding of the hotel Splendide and the café Cappuccino during the attack on January 15, 2016. Hundreds of people dressed in white took to the streets of Ouagadougou to pay homage to the victims of a jihadist attack on a top hotel and a restaurant that left 30 dead and 70 injured. PHOTO | AFP

French gendarmes tend to wounded people in the surrounding of the hotel Splendide and the café Cappuccino during the attack on January 15, 2016. Hundreds of people dressed in white took to the streets of Ouagadougou to pay homage to the victims of a jihadist attack on a top hotel and a restaurant that left 30 dead and 70 injured. PHOTO | AFP  

By AFP
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OUAGADOUGOU

Hundreds of people dressed in white took to the streets of Ouagadougou to pay homage to the victims of a jihadist attack on a top hotel and a restaurant that left 30 dead and 70 injured, an AFP reporter said.

Dubbed a “chain of light”, the silent march began at 19:40 GMT on Saturday, the exact time that Al-Qaeda-affiliated gunmen had launched their deadly attack eight days before.

It was organised over social media by music manager Walib Bara and journalist Raissa Compaore.

“This demonstration was called ‘chain of light’ because we know that the intention of those who waged the attacks was to plunge the country into darkness,” Bara told the press.

“We came to the site of the attack to say that we will continue to drink Cappuccinos in a splendid Burkina,” Bara said, using a play on words referencing two of the attack sites — the Cappuccino cafe and the Splendid hotel, both popular with foreigners.

NATIONAL ANTHEM

Marchers sang the national anthem and carried signs reading “je suis Splendid” and “je suis Cappuccino”, in a move mirroring the “je suis Charlie” rallying cry used after the January 2015 Paris jihadist attacks.

People walked about a half a mile to the site of the attacks, where they placed candles in a tribute to the victims.

“I’m not afraid to come to the Kwame N’Krumah avenue because I see the government has taken security measures to protect us,” Issouf Cisse, a sales agent working close to the Cappuccino cafe, said.

“Life goes on despite the attacks.”

A national tribute is planned for Monday, with President Roch Marc Christian Kabore expected to attend a public ceremony.

The first such attack in Burkina Faso, it was claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and came weeks after Islamists claimed an attack on a top hotel in Bamako, capital of neighbouring Mali.

ENDED SIEGE

Last week, security forces in Burkina Faso ended a siege at hotel and a restaurant that were stormed by Al Qaeda linked gunmen, killing three jihadists and freeing 126 people, but another assault was ongoing at second hotel nearby.

A security source said at least 22 people were killed in the jihadists’ assaults on the Burkinabe capital’s four-star Splendid hotel and the nearby Capuccino restaurant, which are popular with UN staff and foreigners.

Thirty-three of the 126 people freed from the Splendid hotel by Burkinabe troops backed by French special forces were wounded.

“The attacks on the Splendid Hotel and the Cappuccino are over. But an assault is ongoing at the Hotel Ybi” next to the Cappuccino, Interior Minister Simon Compaore told AFP.

A total of “126 people, including at least 33 wounded, have been freed. Three jihadists — an Arab and two black Africans — have been killed,” he added.

Twenty people have been confirmed dead, but the toll could rise further as Compaore told AFP earlier in the night that firefighters had seen 10 bodies on the terrace of the restaurant.

Early Saturday, a fire raged at the main entrance of the 147-room hotel in Ouagodougou and screams could be heard from inside, while on the street outside about 10 vehicles were set alight.