Sunday, January 17, 2016

American Missionary Was Among Burkina Faso Attack Victims
Associated Press
Sunday 17 January 2016 00.22 EST

A “well-loved and respected” American missionary was among the 29 people killed in the attack by al-Qaida fighters on a hotel and cafe in Burkina Faso’s capital of Ouagadougou.

Michael Riddering, 45, from Florida, died in the Cappuccino cafe in Friday’s attack, his mother-in-law Carol Boyle told Associated Press. He was meeting a group that was going to volunteer at the orphanage and women’s crisis center he ran with his wife, Ann Boyle-Riddering

Riddering arrived early and was in the cafe with a pastor. When the attack started they ran in different directions, Boyle said from her home in Weston, Florida.

The pastor had Riddering’s phone, and called Boyle-Riddering to say that they were at the cafe and there was gunfire, but then the line went dead. The pastor hid in the cafe and survived. It was not until a fellow Christian missionary found Riddering in the morgue on Saturday that they knew he was dead.

He leaves behind four children, two of whom were adopted from Burkina Faso.

“He was extremely well-loved and respected. He wasn’t a hypocrite, he wasn’t a two-face. He had his guiding light, and he followed it,” Boyle said.

Riddering, who once managed a yacht outfitting company in Cooper City, Florida, and his wife, a graphic designer, sold their property and possessions and moved to the town of Yako to run the Les Ailes de Refuge orphanage in 2011, Boyle said. The complex also includes a clinic, classrooms and a home for abused women and widows.

“They were looking forward to continuing to working in Burkina Faso and raising their children together,” said a statement from Sheltering Wings, the missionary organization that sponsored the orphanage. “Tragically and unexpectedly, Mike’s life was cut short. We grieve with Amy and her family, and all who knew Mike.”

John Anderson, a Sheltering Wings board member, remembered Riddering as “a wonderful, godly man” who managed to find spare time to help teams of volunteers from other organizations who dug wells for local residents.

“During the Ebola crisis, when it was hard to find people to do the digging, Mike would go out and join them so they could continue doing the work,” Anderson said. “And that’s backbreaking work. He never stopped moving and never stopped helping.”

At least 29 people died in the attack by fighters, which triggered a siege lasting more than 12 hours. The dead, which included victims from 18 different countries, included the wife and young daughter of the Italian cafe owner, two French citizens, two Swiss citizens, and six Canadians.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said on Saturday: “We offer our deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of all those killed. We have offered assistance to the Burkinabe authorities in their investigation of this terrible crime.”

The federal government did not identify the six Canadians but a government source said some were humanitarian workers.

The Quebec government said the dead people were all from the French-speaking Canadian province.

In a statement published Saturday, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard condemned the attacks. “Nothing can explain such cowardly and gratuitous acts,” Couillard said in the statement. “These odious acts remind us that we can never compromise on our values of liberty, democracy and tolerance.”

Burkina Faso hotel attack leaves 6 Canadians from Quebec dead

At least 28 people from 18 countries die in the attack on the Splendid Hotel

The Canadian Press
Jan 16, 2016 11:26 PM ET

Six Canadians died in an attack on a luxury hotel in Burkina Faso, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday, as the Quebec government confirmed all six were from the province.

Four jihadist attackers linked to al-Qaeda were killed by Burkina Faso and French security forces hours after they stormed the Splendid Hotel and nearby Cappuccino Café, establishments popular with westerners in the West African country's capital of Ouagadougou. At least 28 died in the attacks, from 18 different countries.

Trudeau issued a statement strongly condemning the attack that began late Friday and ended Saturday.

"On behalf of all Canadians, we offer our deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of all those killed and a speedy recovery to all those injured. We are deeply saddened by these senseless acts of violence on innocent civilians," he said.

Another statement released by Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion identified the Canadians as "aid workers and volunteers."

"Canada condemns in the strongest terms any act that threatens the safety of civilians, including those who strive to improve the lives of vulnerable people around the world," the statement read. "Working in challenging and dangerous situations, their efforts to create lasting ties between peoples while building a more just and peaceful world will never cease."

A spokesperson for Quebec's International Relations Minister Christine St-Pierre confirmed all six were from Quebec. St-Pierre also condemned the attacks and offered condolences to the relatives of the victims.

"Nothing can explain such acts of cowardice," she said in a statement written in French. "On behalf of the Quebec people, I offer my deepest condolences to the families and those close to the victims, and wish a speedy recovery to the injured. Our thoughts are with you during these difficult times."

Three attackers were killed at the hotel and a fourth was killed when security forces cleared out a second hotel nearby. Two of the three attackers at the Splendid Hotel were identified as female, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said on national radio.

He said at least 126 hostages were freed, in part by French forces, who arrived overnight from neighbouring Mali to aid in the rescue.

One of the victims was identified as American missionary Michael Riddering, a 45-year-old who died in the Cappuccino Café, where he was to meet a group that was going to volunteer at the orphanage and women's crisis centre he ran with his wife.

The attack was launched by the same extremists behind a similar siege at an upscale hotel in Bamako, Mali in November that left 20 dead.

An al-Qaeda affiliate known as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility online as the attack was ongoing in downtown Ouagadougou at the 147-room hotel, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.


Burkina Faso, a largely Muslim country, had for years been largely spared from the violence carried out by Islamic extremist groups who were abducting foreigners for ransom in neighbouring Mali and Niger. Then last April, a Romanian national was kidnapped in an attack that was the first of its kind in the country.

Canada and Burkina Faso have had a diplomatic relationship since 1962, according to the Department of Global Affairs, adding that Canada is the country's largest foreign investor.

In addition to trading about $75 million in goods and importing another $48.5 million in the fiscal year 2013-2014, Canada provided $33 million for development assistance in Burkina Faso that same year.

Ogho Ikhalo, of Plan Canada, an international development organization that has been working for decades with children in Burkina Faso, said all staff in the country were safe.

"We are saddened by the loss of lives, specifically Canadians, and also all the lives that were impacted by the situation," she said. "From our organization's standpoint, we want all parties in the dispute to end the conflict and to ensure that all children are safe."

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