OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Suspected Islamic extremists opened fire at a Turkish restaurant in the capital of Burkina Faso late Sunday, killing at least 18 people in the second such attack on a restaurant popular with foreigners in the past two years.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the violence, which continued into the early hours Monday. Gunfire could be heard almost seven hours after the attack began.
Communication Minister Remi Dandjinou told journalists that at least 18 people were dead and eight others wounded, according to a provisional toll. He said two of the attackers also were killed.
The victims came from several different nationalities, he said. At least one of the dead was French.
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.
Police Capt. Guy Ye said three or four assailants had arrived at the Aziz Istanbul restaurant on motorcycles, and then began shooting randomly at the crowds dining Sunday evening.
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.