At least one Indian man was among the 63 hostages evacuated on Saturday from a hotel in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, that was attacked by suspected Islamist militants.
Sixty-three hostages, including 33 wounded, were evacuated in the early hours of Saturday, communication minister Remis Dandjinou told AFP.
“There are some dead but we don’t have the numbers. The assault is ongoing with the Burkinabe forces supported by French special forces,” Dandjinou said, adding that amongst those rescued was labour minister Clement Sawadogo.
Information about the Indian man as one of the hostages came to light after a concerned friend, Gaurav Garg, took to Twitter to seek help from Union minister of external affairs Sushma Swaraj. Garg said his friend Viraj was “stuck in Splendid Hotel” that was besieged by al Qaeda-linked gunmen.
In his first tweet, Garg said he was staying in Bravia Hotel in Burkina Faso, in vicinity of the hotel under attack, and sought immediate help.
The recent attack comes less than two months after a jihadist hostage siege at the luxury Radisson Blu Hotel in the Malian capital Bamako in November.
The head of the city’s main hospital on Friday had confirmed at least 20 dead and another 15 injured.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to US-based monitoring group SITE.
The “mujahideen brothers” of AQIM “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”, SITE quoted the group as saying.
A witness also reported seeing four assailants who were of Arab descent or white appearance and “wearing turbans”.
Several attacks have taken place in Burkina Faso in recent months, but no such assaults have yet hit the capital.
The country’s troops backed by French forces are still trying to retake control of the building hours after the attack began