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The United Nations and the African Union are condemning what they say was a terrorist attack last night in Burkina Faso. Authorities say at least 18 people, including foreigners, were killed in a raid on a restaurant favored by the wealthy. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.
OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Last night, gunmen on motorbikes rode up to the Aziz Istanbul Turkish restaurant in the heart of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso's capital, and with machine guns opened fire on diners on the restaurant's terrace.
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QUIST-ARCTON: Gunfire echoed as the security forces moved in and residents of the upscale neighborhood described a gun battle which lasted till dawn. The assault occurred a block and a half away from an almost identical attack on a cafe and hotel in Ouagadougou in January last year. Two al-Qaida affiliates claimed responsibility. More than 30 people, including foreigners, were killed. Burkina Faso's president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, called last night's attack a despicable and cowardly terrorist assault. Residents asked why, knowing the city's vulnerability, vigilance and security were not reinforced in Ouagadougou.
Burkina Faso and its neighbors Mali and the Ivory Coast have all been hit by al-Qaida-linked attacks in recent months and years, prompting the planned creation of an anti-terrorism force for West Africa's Sahel region. Former colonial power France, the White House and the entire region agree the spread of extremist violence must be countered. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Accra. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.