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Friday, January 15, 2016
Breaking News : Burkina Faso attack, Reports of car bombs and gunfire at hotel 'used by UN and Westerners'
Car bombs have exploded and gunfire has been heard during a suspected Islamist attack on a hotel in Burkina Faso.
Masked gunmen stormed the Splendid Hotel in the capital Ouagadougou at around 7.30pm tonight following a series of explosions.
The hotel is frequently used by UN staff and Western visitors.
There are reports of hostages being taken.
Witnesses said the gunmen stormed the hotel, burning cars outside and firing in the air to drive back crowds before security forces arrived, prompting an intense exchange of gunfire.
Snipers also targeted customers in a coffee shop opposite the hotel, local media reports.
There is no indication of the number of casualties at this time however one source reported seeing at least two bodies.
The official Twitter account for the United States Embassy, situated around 10km away from the Splendid Hotel, wrote: "We are closely following the situation downtown."
The hotel is situated in the centre of Ouagadougou near the city's airport and has 146 rooms.
It is popular with Western tourists and multinational businesses and there were reports it was hosting a conference for the airline industry tonight.
Burkina Faso has remained politically unstable since October 2014 when veteran President Blaise Compaore was overthrown in a popular protest.
Two militants killed 20 people from nations including Russia, China and the United States at a luxury hotel in neighbouring Mali in November last year 2015, before being killed by the security forces.
Three Islamist groups including al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed that attack, the most prominent by militants who are based in the north of the country and have staged a series of attacks over the last year.