16/01/2016 3:28 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

More Than 30 Hostages Freed After Burkina Faso Attack

In this grab taken from video by Associate Press Television, an armed policeman patrols the area after an attack on a hotel, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. Attackers struck an upscale hotel popular with Westerners in Burkina Faso's capital late Friday, fueling the recent political turmoil in the West African country. Three hours later, gunfire could still be heard as soldiers in an armored vehicle finally approached the area. (Associated Press Television via AP)

Security forces have freed more than 30 hostages after launching a counter-terrorism assault on a Burkina Faso hotel which was attacked by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb earlier on Saturday (AEST).

A gunmen is reported to have killed at least 20 people during a terrorist assault on the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou -- the first time militants have attacked the capital of Burkina Faso.

More than five hours after the hotel was stormed, commandos launched a counter-assault and freed 33 hostages, of which one is believed to be a government minister.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is claiming responsibility for the atrocity, during which the attackers are believed to 'have targeted white people’ a witnessed has said.

Robert Sangare, director of Ouagadougou's university hospital centre, said one European woman being treated at the hospital told him the attackers appeared to target white people.

'We have received around 15 wounded people. There are people with bullet wounds and people who are injured because of falls,’ Sangare said.

The assault follows a an attack on a luxury hotel in Mali in November during which two terrorists killed 20 people, including citizens of Russia, China and the United States.