MS Risk Blog

Security Advisory: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (15 Jan 2016)

Posted on in Burkina Faso title_rule

Executive Summary

Incident Overview

On 15 January at approximately 19:30 local time, multiple gunmen attacked the Splendid Hotel, which is frequented by westerners, in Ouagadougou. Witnesses reported that attackers torched cars and fired in the air in a bid to drive people back from the building. There was an intense gun battle that erupted between the gunmen and security forces.

In the early hours of Saturday, security forces launched an assault to reclaim the Splendid Hotel, with witnesses reporting that part of the hotel was on fire. Security operations to drive the militants from the hotel have ended, with Minister of Communications Remis Danjinou reporting that all 126 hostages have been freed. Three jihadists were killed in the operation. Security ministry spokesman Abi Ouattara has confirmed that 22 people have been killed in the terror attacks in Ouagadougou. The fatalities are believed to be from 18 different countries. At least thirty-three people have been taken to hospital with injuries, with patients reporting that the attackers had targeted westerners. At least ten people were killed in the terror attack at the Cappuccino Café. On Saturday morning, a second siege by gunmen was reported to be taking place at a second hotel, the Yibi Hotel. Operations are currently underway with security forces trying to determine if some of the fighters were hiding there.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed responsibility for the attack. It is believed that fighters from al-Qaeda affiliate al-Murabitoun carried out the attack.   The group has indicated that it targeted the Splendid Hotel because it is popular with foreigners.

While Burkina Faso has endured bouts of political turmoil in the wake of the overthrow of veteran President Blaise Compaore in October 2014, it has been largely spared of violence carried out by Islamist militants who have staged deadly attacks in neighbouring Mali, which it shares a 600 km (375 mile) border. Friday’s attack will present a significant challenge to President Roch Marc Kabore, who was elected in November 2015 as Burkina Faso’s first new leader in decades.

In December 2015, the French embassy warned its citizens against travelling to a national park in eastern Burkina Faso after reports that jihadists were threatening to kidnap foreigners. In May 2015, Islamist militant group al-Mourabitoun disclosed that it was holding a Romanian man who was kidnapped from a mine in northern Burkina Faso the previous month.

In recent years, Islamist militants have staged deadly attacks in a number of West African states bordering the Sahel. On 20 November 2015, two militants killed twenty people, including foreigners, at the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital. Security forces later killed the two militants. That attack was claimed by al-Mourabitoun and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), with AQIM later calling for similar attacks across the region.   In the wake of that attack, officials in the region warned of similar attacks being carried out, including in Burkina Faso.

Embassy Contact Details

Embassy of Canada

316 Professor Joseph KIZERBO ave.

01 P.O. box 548

Ouagadougou 01

Telephone: (226)


Hours of operation: Monday to Thursday (8:30 AM to 12PM; 2PM to 4PM); Friday (8:30 AM – 12 PM)

***Please note that Australians are covered by the Canadian embassy in Ouagadougou***


French Embassy

Avenue du Tresor, BP 504, Ouagadougou

Telephone: (226)


Security Advisory

In the wake of the terror attack in Ouagadougou, MS Risk has the following in place:

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