Burkina Faso attacks: US missionary killed in terror attack ran an orphanage

The 45-year-old was in the Cappuccino Cafe when it was stormed by al-Qaeda backed terrorists on Friday

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The Independent Online

The mother-in-law of an American missionary killed in a terror attack on a hotel and cafe in Burkina Faso has described him as “extremely well loved and respected”.

Michael Riddering was one of 28 people from 18 different nationalities who were killed in the attack in the capital Ouagadougou which turned into a 12-hour siege starting on Friday evening.  

Four assailants stormed the four-star Splendid Hotel and nearby Cappuccino Cafe late on Friday night, detonating bombs that set surrounding cars on fire in an attack which was said to be targeting “white people”

Simon Compaore, the interior minister, said the siege was lifted at around 8am local time on Saturday, with 126 people rescued and all three attackers dead.   

Mr Riddering’s mother-in-law Carol Boyle said he had gone to the cafe to see a group which was planning to volunteer at the orphanage and women’s crisis centre he ran with his wife, Amy Boyle-Riddering. 

Burkina Faso: Hostage situation ongoing as gunmen storm Ouagadougou hotel

The couple - originally from Cooper City in Florida - first moved to the town of Yako in the north west of the country in 2011 to run Les Ailes de Refuge (Sheltered Wings) orphanage .

She said: "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." 

The soldiers patrol outside the Cappuccino Cafe in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in the aftermath of a terror assault on it and a nearby hotel

John Anderson, a Sheltered Wings board member, said Mr Riddering was "a wonderful godly man" who would also help other voluntary organisations dig wells for local residents. 

He described how during the Ebola crisis Mr Riddering volunteered to dug graves when others were too afraid. 

Mr Anderson said: "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. 

Two unidentified armed men approach a vehicle, near to a hotel, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

"And that's backbreaking work. He never stopped moving and never stopped helping." 

Mr Riddering had four children - two of whom were adopted from Burkina Faso.

Survivors described how the militants were targeting foreign "white people” during the siege with one woman saying: "They kept coming back and forth into Cappuccino. You'd think it was over, then they'd come back and shoot more people. 

"They would come back and see if the white people were moving and then they would shoot them again."

Six Canadians, two French, two Swiss, two Italians, four Ukrainians, five Burkinabes, a 67-year-old Dutch man and American Mr Riddering have been confirmed to be among the dead.

The nine-year-old son of the cafe owner is confirmed to be among the dead.

Burkina Faso's soldiers evacuate an injured man (3rd L) from the Splendid hotel during an attack on both the hotel and a restaurant by Al-Qaeda linked gunmen late on January 15, 2016.

Terror group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for attack saying it was "revenge against France and the disbelieving West".  

The attack was the deadliest assault in the region since the attack on a hotel in Bamako in neighbouring Mali in November which killed 20 people. 

France first began operations in northern Mali in January 2013 to defeat Islamist militants at the Malian government’s request.  

Additional reporting by agencies