Monday 22 January 2018

Volunteers among the victims of Burkina Faso terror attack

A French police officer inspects burned vehicles at the hotel in Ouagadougou Photo: Reuters
A French police officer inspects burned vehicles at the hotel in Ouagadougou Photo: Reuters

Aislinn Laing

A nine-year-old Ukrainian-Italian boy, a Canadian family and a US missionary are among the 28 people killed when terrorists attacked a hotel and café in Burkina Faso.

Michael Riddering (45), a father of four from Florida, had been working in Burkina Faso with his wife since 2011. A friend said that during the Ebola crisis that struck the region, the missionary had volunteered to help the gravediggers.

"That's back-breaking work. Michael never stopped moving and never stopped helping," said John Anderson, a board member of Mr Riddering's charity Sheltering Wings.

Many of the 17 foreigners known to have been killed were in the country doing some form of volunteering work. Retired Canadian teacher Yves Carrier, his wife Gladys and their two children, Maude and Charlelie, were helping to build a school along with Louis Chabot and Suzanne Bernier, two other Canadians who were friends and who also died.

Also among the dead was a Dutch citizen, two Swiss citizens and a group of colleagues - two French and one Portuguese - who were working for a French transport company. The Ukrainian foreign minister said four of his countrymen had died - the wife of the café owner and the couple's nine-year-old son, along with her mother and sister.

Responsibility for the attack in the capital city, Ougadougou, was claimed by Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb, but it remains unclear how many people took part in the assault. Many witnesses say they saw two women among the jihadis.

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