UPDATE 7:47: p.m. EST — The death toll in the attack by al Qaeda-linked terrorists on the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso rose to 28 Saturday, with 56 more injured, the New York Times reported. The bodies of the three attackers also reportedly were identified, Compaore saying they were "very young" men.
UPDATE 12:18 p.m. EST — Amnesty International issued a statement condemning the attack on the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, saying the terrorists showed an “utter disregard” for humanity. The statement by Alioune Tine, Amnesty's director for West Africa, also praised the people of Burkina Faso for showing enormous courage.
"The perpetrators of the horrific attack in Ouagadougou on Friday night which deliberately killed and injured dozens of people from many nationalities and religions, show an utter disregard for fundamental principles of humanity.
"Over the last 15 months the people of Burkina Faso have shown enormous courage and determination in peacefully protecting their constitution, facing down a coup d’état and electing a new government. Their resilience in doing so will help ensure they protect their rights and freedoms again."
UPDATE: 6 a.m. EST — Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré announced that security forces had killed a fourth gunman at a second hotel close to Splendid Hotel, where three gunmen laid siege late Friday. There were two women among the assailants, the president announced Saturday.
Kaboré said that the death toll in the hotel siege had risen to 23. According to one government official, people killed in the attack included victims from 18 different nationalities.
Hours earlier, Burkina Faso’s Interior Minister Simon Compaoré identified the three gunmen who attacked the popular Splendid Hotel as “an Arab and two black Africans.” The hotel is sometimes used by French troops with Operation Barkhané, a force based in Chad and set up to combat Islamist militants across West Africa’s Sahel region.
The takeover of a hotel in the capital of Burkina Faso ended after three militants were reportedly killed and 126 hostages freed by Burkinabe soldiers along with U.S. and French special forces Saturday. While the final death toll is yet to be calculated, at least 20 people were presumed dead since the siege began Friday evening, reports said.
Interior Minister Simon Compaore told AFP Saturday that altogether 126 people have been rescued from the hotel, with three attackers reportedly being killed. According to security personnel involved in the operation, the gunmen had rigged the place with explosives, slowing down the progress of U.S. French and Burkinabe security forces seeking to retake the hotel.
"What's making our job more difficult is that they've rigged the access to the upper floors," the Burkinabe officer, who asked not to be named, told Reuters Saturday.
However, security operations were still continuing at a café opposite the Hotel, where 10 civilians on the terrace of the building were gunned down, the country’s security minister said, according to various media reports.
About 40 Burkina Faso soldiers, with the help of 30 French troops and an unknown number of American troops, launched an assault to rescue hostages early Saturday.
Survivors described horrific scenes as the gunmen paced and fired in the hotel. "Everyone was panicked and was laying down on the floor. There was blood everywhere, they were shooting at people at point blank," Yannick Sawadogo, a survivor, told CNBC.
"We could hear them talking and they were walking around and kept shooting at people that seemed alive," Sawadogo said.
Terrorist group al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to media reports. The gunmen had stormed the hotel, burning cars outside and firing into the air to drive back crowds before security forces arrived, witnesses told local media.
A curfew has been put place for Ouagadougou and the French Embassy has set up a crisis unit for its citizens in the country while the U.S. embassy issued a warning to its citizens not to venture out in the city.