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US forces provided support during deadly hotel siege in Burkina Faso

By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 17, 2016

STUTTGART, Germany — A small number of U.S. forces provided support to the military of Burkina Faso during a deadly weekend attack by al-Qaida-linked militants on a hotel and café in that nation’s capital. Africa Command said Sunday.

Twenty-eight people died and 54 were injured in the attack in Ouagadougou which started early Saturday and lasted about twelve hours. A total of 124 hostages were freed by the security forces.

“U.S. forces were primarily advising and providing information to the response forces from the Burkina Faso and French militaries,” said Chuck Prichard, a spokesman at Africa Command’s headquarters in Stuttgart. “A small number of U.S. forces directly assisted the recovery operation in the hotel.”

Both American and French military personnel provided support during the siege, helping to secure the area, Prichard said.

The attack, which resembles a similar November assault on an upscale hotel in Mali, served as a reminder of al-Qaida’s deadly reach into Africa.

That attack, which also involved a small number of U.S. and French forces providing assistance, resulted in nearly 20 people being killed.

Al-Qaida’s North Africa branch, known as AQIM, claimed responsibility for the attack in Burkina Faso.

The attack in Ouagadougou involved assaults at the Splendid Hotel, Capuccino Cafe, and the Yibi Hotel, according to the U.S. State Department.

One American, 45-year-old missionary Michael Riddering, was killed on the attack on the café. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. embassy would assist all Americans in the area.

A separate attack on gendarmerie patrol near the northern mining town of Tinakoff resulted in the deaths of two gendarmes.

Bukino Faso, a small country that borders Mali and Niger, has a history of working closely with the U.S. and France and has served as a launching point for various intelligence and surveillance operations in the broader region.

“We stand with the Burkinabe people against terrorism and extremism.” Kirby said. “We will continue to support our partners in Africa to combat this shared and lethal threat.”

Vandiver.john@stripes.com

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