A "terrorist attack" on a cafe in the centre of the capital of Burkina Faso has left at least 18 dead and eight others injured, the government said on Monday (14 August). Three attackers have reportedly been killed.

Communication Minister Remis Dandjinou said it was unclear how many assailants were involved in the attack on Hotel Bravia and the Aziz Istanbul Restaurant in Ouagadougou. Some people are still believed to be trapped in a building and security forces are fighting the attackers.

"They [attackers] are confined to one part of the building they attacked. Security and elite forces are conducting an operation," Dandjinou reportedly said on television.

The gunmen reportedly began opening fire on customers of Hotel Bravia and the Aziz Istanbul Restaurant shortly after 9pm local time (10pm BST) on Sunday, 13 August, on Ouagadougou's busy Kwame Nkrumah Avenue.

Police Capt. Guy Ye said three or four assailants had arrived at the Aziz Istanbul restaurant on motorcycles, and then began shooting randomly at the crowds dining Sunday evening.

Witnesses were quoted by local media as saying that they spotted at least three gunmen at the Turkish restaurant. The attack site has been cordoned off and people have been advised to avoid the area.

The casualties also included foreign nationals, but their identities are yet to be established. Meanwhile, a hospital in the city reportedly confirmed that one of the dead included a Turkish national. Another of the victims was confirmed as French.

Burkina Faso attack
A wounded unidentified person is evacuated following an attack by gunmen on a restaurant in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in this still frame taken from a video on 13 August 2017 Reuters/ Reuters TV

Although no group has so far taken responsibility for the attack, there are fears an al-Qaeda affiliate could be responsible, the BBC's Alex Duval Smith reported.

A similar attack in the same area had killed nearly 30 people in January 2016. Gunmen had taken nearly 170 people hostage at Splendid Hotel and the nearby Cappucino restaurant, both on Kwame Nkrumah Avenue. Al-Qaeda had claimed responsibility for that attack.

Burkina Faso, a landlocked nation in West Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world. It shares a northern border with Mali, which has long battled Islamic extremists.

The three attackers in the 2016 massacre were of foreign origin, according to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which claimed responsibility in the aftermath along with the jihadist group known as Al Mourabitoun. But the terror threat in Burkina Faso is increasingly homegrown, experts say.

The northern border region is now the home of a local preacher, Ibrahim Malam Dicko, who radicalized and has claimed recent deadly attacks against troops and civilians. His association, Ansarul Islam, is now considered a terrorist group by Burkina Faso's government.

Burkina Faso attack
Restaurant customers run in the street following an attack by gunmen on a Turkish restaurant in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso on 13 August, 2017 Reuters/ Reuters TV