ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Gunmen riding motorcycles roared up to a Turkish restaurant in the capital of the West African nation of Burkina Faso and opened fire, killing at least 18 people and taking hostages before security forces ended a standoff early Monday.
The country’s communications minister, Remi Dandjinou, told reporters that security forces had killed both attackers. He said at least 20 other people were injured in the attack on the Aziz Istanbul restaurant, a spot popular with foreigners in the capital, Ouagadougou.
Among those killed were two Canadians, two Kuwaitis and citizens of France, Senegal, Nigeria, Lebanon and Turkey, in addition to others from Burkina Faso, the country’s Foreign Ministry said.
“This is a terrorist attack,” Dandjinou told reporters.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Burkina Faso has been hit by Islamist attackers before.
In January 2016, gunmen from the North Africa branch of al-Qaeda attacked a hotel and coffee shop on the same busy avenue in Ouagadougou, killing at least two dozen.
Al-Qaeda’s North African branch, in alliance with local extremist groups, has been aiming to spread its attacks beyond its base in the Sahara desert, with assaults on a beach resort in Ivory Coast in March 2016 and on the Radisson hotel in Mali’s capital in November 2015. The group is under heavy pressure from a French-led coalition of forces that have targeted the militants’ desert strongholds, killing a number of their commanders. The group has vowed to attack France’s allies in the region.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that France would remain committed to working with the countries of the region “in the fight against terrorist groups.”
Burkina Faso, a landlocked, impoverished nation in West Africa, has largely been spared the terrorist attacks taking place elsewhere in the Sahel region.
Its president, Roch Marc Kaboré, condemned the attack, expressed condolences to the families of the victims and praised security forces for their response. “The fight against terrorism is a long term battle which is why I appeal for vigilance, solidarity and unity for the whole nation,” he said in a tweet Monday.
The attack began around 9 p.m. local time Sunday when four gunmen arrived on motorcycles, pulled assault rifles out of their bags and opened fire on diners on the terrace outside the restaurant, according to Radio France Internationale. The restaurant was packed Sunday night with a birthday party, the radio report added. Security forces arrived in armored vehicles and surrounded the area, eventually cornering the gunmen in an upper floor of the restaurant where they took hostages, Dandjinou said.
Brian Murphy in Washington contributed to this report.