This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Burkino Faso's Islamist Baptism

"For the first time in history, our country was the victim of a series of barbarous terrorist attacks, ignoble and on a scale without precedence and an unheard-of cowardice."
"The struggle against terrorism is now part of our daily life."
"We call upon the Burkinabe people to be vigilant and courageous because we must include terrorist acts as an integral part of our daily struggle."
President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

"We had to play dead. They shook people by the foot to see if they were alive or not and if they were alive, they shot them."
Local woman victim at Cappuccino Cafe

"They kept coming back. You'd think it was over, then they'd come back and shoot more people. They would come back and see if the white people were moving and then they would shoot them again."
"My friend had a white dead person on top of her, bleeding onto her. But his body saved her."
Slovenian social anthropologist in Ouagadougou

"[The Splendid Hotel assault was] revenge against France and the disbelieving West [to] punish the Cross-worshipers for their crimes against our people in Central Africa, Mali and other lands of the Muslims."
"[The message was] written by the heroes of Islam with their blood and body parts."
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)  statement
A general view of damaged vehicles from two car bombs outside the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina FasoA general view of damaged vehicles from two car bombs outside the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso  Photo: EPA/WOUTER ELSEN

Twenty-eight people representing 18 nationalities were killed and 56 wounded whom fate placed in the wrong place at the wrong time in a 15-hour battle that took place on Avenue Kwame Nkrumah in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, between government forces and militants representing Al-Qaeda int he Islamic Maghreb, an offshoot of the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda.

Some of the victims interviewed after the horrific attack, described their attackers as looking like tribal Tauregs, turbaned and as appearing so young that they struggled under the weight of their assault rifles. The Hotel Splendid, popular with the expatriate Western crowd and aid workers had been targeted, but this was a planned, multi-targeted event, having at least that in common with the year-end attacks in Paris.

It was not only the hotel that was a target but a popular nearby cafe as well as another hotel.There were said to be four attackers altogether. It's astonishing how much carnage four people can create armed with surprise and weapons-attack training and deadly weapons. People never realize just how vulnerable they are when they are faced with the terrible realization that their lives are about to be turned inside-out by violent terrorists.

The Cafe Cappuccino was open for evening business with people sitting on patio chairs in a carbon copy of the November Paris attacks when the attackers began their rampage, shouting "Allahu Akhbar!", firing into the air, then executing people at close range. Diners experienced an hour of anguished terror as the terrorists picked them over, killing anyone who was still alive, then set the cafe alight, shooting at anyone attempting to escape; killing ten patrons in total.

French soldiers arrive at the site of the attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina FasoFrench soldiers arrive at the site of the attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso  Photo: REUTERS/Stringer

Three of the attackers were killed at the hotel, with a fourth killed once security forces cleared out a nearby second hotel. Two of the attackers at the Splendid Hotel were women.

A French colony until 1960, a protective French presence remains in Burkina Faso, as a reflection of France's commitment to help protect the tiny impoverished country. The attackers had accomplished much for such a small force; launching the attacks on the hotels and the cafe, setting buildings and cars on fire.

This was Burkino Faso's violent introduction to the Islamist scourge of deadly attacks that have targeted its neighbours.

Local and French forces stormed the Splendid Hotel to free over a hundred hostages.  
Among the dead:
• Six Quebecers: Yves Carrier, his daughter Maude and his wife Gladys Chamberland and their son, Charlelie, and friends Louis Chabot and Suzane Bernier;
• Seven Burkinabé citizens;
• Two French nationals, and one more, according to French officials;
• A French-Ukrainian;
• Two Swiss citizens in the country doing humanitarian work, who had been in the café that came under attack;
• One 67-year-old Dutch volunteer, according to the Dutch foreign ministry;
• One citizen each from Portugal and Libya;
• An American missionary, Mike Riddering, whose death was announced by his wife Amy on Facebook and later confirmed by the U.S. State Department.
• Four members of a Ukrainian family, according to Ukraine representatives, including a woman who co-owned the Cappuccino Cafe targeted during the attack, and Michel, her nine-year-old son. Her sister and mother might also be among the dead, according to Ukrainian websites.

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