Story highlights

An al Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility for the attacks

"Out of the six attackers, three are dead," French PM says

CNN —  

An American who died in a terror attack in Burkina Faso moved halfway across the world with his wife to run an orphanage and women’s crisis center.

Attackers raided the Splendid Hotel in the capital, Ouagadougou, shooting some and taking others hostage. Minutes before the overnight hotel siege on January 15, they shot patrons at a cafe across the street. Both attacks left 29 people dead.

French and Burkinabe forces stormed the hotel hours later and freed 126 hostages.

“Out of the six attackers, three are dead and three are still on the run,” said Manuel Valls, the French prime minister.

“I want to pay tribute to the effectiveness of the Burkinabe authorities. This young democracy needs our support and our help.’

More than 50 people were wounded, including Burkinabe police officers and a French service member, authorities said.

The fatalities came from various countries, including France, Canada, the United States and Ukraine.

An al Qaeda-linked terrorist group claimed responsibility for the assaults at the hotel and the cafe – both popular meeting places for expatriates and Western diplomats.

“Everyone was panicked and was lying down on the floor. There was blood everywhere, they were shooting at people at point blank,” said Yannick Sawadogo, who survived the siege.

The attack comes a few months after Burkina Faso marked a turning point following a historic presidential election.

Turning point

Burkina Faso elected a new president in November after nearly three decades of autocratic rule followed by a civil uprising.

Kabore, the nation’s former prime minister, won more than 53% of votes in that election.

The West, particularly France, considers Burkina Faso a key ally in the fight against al Qaeda.

The U.S. Embassy condemned the attack, describing it as a ” senseless assault on innocent people.”

Australian authorities did not immediately comment on the kidnapping.

CNN’s Annie Ramos contributed to this report.