Austrian doctor and his wife kidnapped in Burkina Faso overnight

January 16, 2016 5:48 pm

The scene of an attack on a hotel, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Photo / APExtremists have kidnapped an Austrian doctor and his wife in the north of Burkina Faso, the West African nation’s security ministry says.
The ministry did not have immediate information on how long the two Austrians had been in northern Burkina Faso, where they were doing volunteer work.
Jihadis took the two from the town of Baraboule in the Soum province in Burkina Faso’s Sahel region.
There was no immediate confirmation of the kidnapping from Austria’s Foreign Ministry.
“We are trying to look into the matter as quickly as possible,” spokesman Thomas Schnoell told the Austria Press Agency.
This comes after Burkina Faso and French forces killed a fourth extremist on Saturday night (NZ time) after freeing 126 people and killing three other attackers to end the seizure of a luxury hotel by al-Qaida-linked militants in the capital, Ouagadougou.

The president of Burkina Faso says in addition to the four extremists, at least 23 people were killed in the attack at the Splendid Hotel.
The country’s Minister of Security and Internal Affairs, Simon Compaore, told journalists at the scene that the 23 deceased are of 18 different nationalities.
There were about 33 people wounded, he said.
It was not immediately clear whether the abduction of the Austrian citizens was linked to the hotel attack.
The fourth jihadist was killed on Saturday when security forces cleared out a second hotel nearby.
Two of the three attackers have been identified as female, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said on national radio.
The Islamic extremists stormed the Splendid Hotel and a nearby cafe on Friday night (local time).
Gunfire then ramped up early Saturday as gendarme and military forces fought to take back the building, which had been blackened by a fire during the assault.
The security forces took control of the Splendid Hotel and were searching nearby hotels to be sure no other extremists were hiding.
The search continued on Saturday night (NZ time), even after security forces found and killed a fourth extremist at the Hotel Yibi.
Cars and motorbikes were burned in the attack, and overturned chairs and shards of glass lay scattered near the hotel.
An armed policeman walks near the Splendid Hotel. Photo / AP An armed policeman walks near the Splendid Hotel. Photo / APOnlookers were kept far away from the fighting that continued into daylight.
The harrowing attack was launched by the same extremists behind a similar siege at an upscale hotel in Bamako, Mali in November that left 20 dead.
Dozens of French forces arrived overnight from neighbouring Mali to aid in this latest rescue.
One US military member was embedded with French forces at the scene, and the United States was working to help provide France with surveillance and reconnaissance help, according to a US senior defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the matter publicly.
An al-Qaida affiliate known as AQIM, or al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, claimed responsibility online as the attack was ongoing in downtown Ouagadougou at the 147-room hotel, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.
The Splendid Hotel is popular with Westerners. Photo / Google Maps The Splendid Hotel is popular with Westerners. Photo / Google MapsIn a message posted in Arabic on the extremists’ “Muslim Africa” Telegram account, it said fighters “broke into a restaurant of one of the biggest hotels in the capital of Burkina Faso, and are now entrenched and the clashes are continuing with the enemies of the religion.”
Fighters who spoke by phone later “asserted the fall of many dead Crusaders,” AQIM said, according to SITE.
Minister Compaore said that 10 bodies were found inside the Cappuccino Cafe, a restaurant located next to the Splendid Hotel.
“We know that the gunmen won’t get out of the hotel alive,” said one witness, who gave only his first name, Gilbert. “Our country is not for jihadists or terrorists. They got it wrong.”
Burkina Faso, a largely Muslim country, had for years been largely spared from the violence carried out by Islamic extremist groups who were abducting foreigners for ransom in Mali and Niger.
Then last April, a Romanian national was kidnapped in an attack that was the first of its kind in Burkina Faso.
The country also has been in growing political turmoil since its longtime president was ousted in a popular uprising in late 2014.
Last September members of a presidential guard launched a coup that lasted only about a week.
Two unidentified armed men approach a vehicle near the hotel in Ouagadougou. Photo / AP Two unidentified armed men approach a vehicle near the hotel in Ouagadougou. Photo / APThe transitional government returned to power until Burkina Faso’s November election ushered in new leaders.
The hotel attack in Mali in November also was claimed by a leader of AQIM, who said it had been carried out as a declaration of unity with Algerian militant Moktar Belmoktar’s extremist group Al-Mourabitoun, according to an audio speech that was distributed by SITE at the time.
Belmoktar was a former leader in AQIM before starting his own group, which now has merged back with al-Qaida.

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