Burkina Faso’s Communications Minister Remi Dandjinou said on Saturday that a couple abducted in the country’s north are Australian nationals, correcting an interior ministry statement earlier that they were Austrian.

The couple were kidnapped in Baraboule, near the west African country’s borders with Niger and Mali. It is not yet known whether they were living in Burkina Faso or were there as tourists.

Overnight on Friday, at least 23 people from 18 countries were killed during an attack on the four-star Splendid Hotel and Cappuccino restaurant in the capital Ouagadougou. Security forces ended the siege on Saturday and killed four assailants.

A total of 126 people were freed, including 33 wounded, from the Splendid, which is popular with Westerners and UN personnel.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attack saying it was “revenge against France and the disbelieving West”, according to a statement carried by US-based monitoring group SITE.

Early on Saturday, a fire raged at the main entrance of the hotel in Ouagodougou and screams could be heard from inside, while on the street outside about 10 vehicles were set alight.

“It was horrible, people were sleeping and there was blood everywhere. They were firing at people at close range,” Yannick Sawadogo, one of those who escaped, told AFP.

“We heard them speaking and they were walking around people and firing at people who were not dead. And when they came out they started a fire.”

The attack comes less than two months after a jihadist siege at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in the Malian capital Bamako left 20 people dead, including 14 foreigners – an attack claimed by the same al-Qaeda affiliate behind the Ouagadougou assault.

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