OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso – Suspected Islamic extremists opened fire at a Turkish restaurant late Sunday in the capital of Burkina Faso, killing at least 17 people in the second such attack on a restaurant popular with foreigners in the last two years.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the violence, which continued into the early hours Monday with yet another heavy exchange of gunfire overheard by witnesses.
Communication Minister Remi Dandjinou told journalists that at least 17 people were dead and eight others wounded, according to a provisional toll. The victims came from several different nationalities, he said. Among the dead was at least one French national.
Security forces arrived at the scene with armored vehicles after reports of shots fired near Aziz Istanbul, an upscale restaurant in Ouagadougou. The attack brought back painful memories of the January 2016 attack at another cafe that left 30 people dead.
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-Qaida 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.