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Fri May 27 16:16:36 CAT 2016

Hunt for hotel attack survivors

AFP | 18 January, 2016 00:17
President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said that the country was in shock. File photo
Image by: JOE PENNEY / REUTERS

Security forces were hunting for any possible surviving gunmen who on Friday attacked a top hotel in Burkina Faso that left at least 29 people dead and showed the expanding reach of jihadists in West Africa.

The drama saw Burkinabe troops, backed by French special forces, battle militants who stormed the four-star Splendid Hotel, popular with foreigners and UN staff. At least 13 foreigners are among the dead.

Burkina Faso has declared three days of national mourning following the onslaught, which echoed another al-Qaeda attack last year on a luxury hotel in neighbouring Mali, where 20 people were killed.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed the latest attack on behalf of an affiliate, saying the gunmen were from the al-Mourabitoun group of notorious one-eyed Algerian extremist Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

It is still not clear how many gunmen took part in the attack - the bodies of three have been identified, but some witnesses reported seeing more.

Burkina Faso's Interior Minister, Simon Compaore, saidsecurity forces were carrying out careful searches.

A security cordon was widened at the scene of the attack on Saturday.

The hotel assault will heighten fears that jihadist groups are casting their nets wider in search of targets in west Africa.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said that the country was in shock.

"For the first time in its history, our country has fallen victim to a series of barbaric terrorist attacks," he said, adding that the people of Burkina Faso would nevertheless "emerge victorious".

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