Burkina Faso police have arrested six “foreigners” suspected of being behind jihadist attacks in January that left 30 people dead, the government and police said on Wednesday.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed it was behind an assault on a top hotel and a cafe, both popular with foreigners, which also left 70 people wounded.
“Six individuals of foreign nationalities were arrested on Monday May 30 in Ougadougou,” the national police said in a statement sent to AFP.
These people are believed to have “sheltered and aided the perpetrators of the attack in Ougadougou, and worked with the ringleader of the attacks [who is] still being tracked down”.
Burkina’s Minister of Internal Security, Simon Compaore, told reporters the arrests were made thanks to intelligence shared by other West African security forces.
Security forces have already detained a 38-year-old local man in connection with the attacks on the four-star Hotel Splendid and the nearby Cappuccino cafe.
Until this year, Burkina Faso had largely avoided the attacks and hostage-taking by jihadist groups that have wracked other Sahel countries since 2008.
On Wednesday, unidentified gunmen killed three police officers in northern Burkina Faso near the Malian border – the second attack on a police station near the frontier in less than a fortnight.
The day after the January attacks, an elderly Australian couple were kidnapped in the north of the country where they had lived for more than four decades.
The woman, Jocelyn Elliot, was released in early February, but her 82-year-old husband Kenneth Elliot is still being held.