US missionary killed in Burkina Faso hotel attack

Weston — The mother-in-law of an American missionary has confirmed that he is among those killed after al-Qaeda fighters attacked a hotel and cafe in Burkina Faso’s capital of Ouagadougou. Carol Boyle said Michael Riddering, 45, died in the Cappuccino Cafe, 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, Amy Boyle-Riddering. Riddering arrived early and was in the cafe with a pastor, and when the attack started they ran in different directions, Boyle said.

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 wasn’t 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 by phone from her home in Weston.

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 from Sheltering Wings, the missionary organisation 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.”

At least 28 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.

Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma has condemned the terrorist attacks at the restaurant and a hotel, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation said on Saturday.

“The South African government joins the international community in strongly condemning the cowardly terrorist attacks that took place at a restaurant and a hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on Friday, January 15, 2016, that resulted in the deaths and injuries of scores of innocent civilians,” spokesperson Nelson Kgwete said.

“On behalf of the Government and people of South Africa, HE President Jacob Zuma has conveyed a message of deepest condolences to H E President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, the Government and people of Burkina Faso, particularly the families of the victims.”

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.

Kgwete said South Africa stood with the rest of the international community in its condemnation of the attacks targeting innocent civilians.

“… Terrorism, in whatever form and from whichever quarter, cannot be condoned. The South African Embassy in Ouagadougou is closely monitoring developments and will report to Pretoria as soon as information is available on the well-being of any South African citizens,” he said. – AFP

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