At least 17 dead after gunmen attack restaurant, officials say


Last Updated Aug 13, 2017 9:59 PM EDT

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — An attack by gunmen on a Turkish restaurant left at least 17 people dead late Sunday in the capital of Burkina Faso, a West African country that has seen a surge in violence by Islamic extremists over the past few years.

Security forces were at the scene with armored vehicles, as reports of shots fired near an upscale restaurant in Ouagadougou brought back painful memories of a January 2016 attack at a cafe that left 30 people dead.

At least 17 people had been killed and 8 others were wounded, according to the Burkina Faso government. The figure was released early Monday by Burkina Faso’s communications minister Remi Dandjinou.

Authorities suspect the attack was carried out by suspected jihadists.

BBC News is reporting writes that the city center has been sealed off by the army and the U.S. embassy in Ouagadougou has warned its citizens to avoid the area.

Two locations, Hotel Bravia and the Istanbul Restaurant, appear to have been at the heart of the attack, BBC News reports.

Shots were around 9 p.m. local time. Several hours later a heavy exchange of gunfire could still be heard, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.

Burkina Faso, a landlocked nation in West Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world. It shares a northern border with Mali, which has long battled Islamic extremists.

The three attackers in the 2016 massacre were of foreign origin, according to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which claimed responsibility in the aftermath along with the jihadist group known as Al Mourabitoun. But the terror threat in Burkina Faso is increasingly homegrown, experts say.

The northern border region is now the home of a local preacher, Ibrahim Malam Dicko, who radicalized and has claimed recent deadly attacks against troops and civilians. His association, Ansarul Islam, is now considered a terrorist group by Burkina Faso’s government.

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