Photographer Leila Alaoui Killed in Burkina Faso Terror Attack

The 33-year-old photographer was a rising star in the art world.

Laila Alaoui
Photo: Augustin Le Gall via Alaoui's Facebook

Photographer Leila Alaoui has died after being injured in a terrorist attack in Burkina Faso that took place on Friday night, which left 30 people dead.

Alaoui, 33, was on assignment for Amnesty International in Burkina Faso working on a project based on women’s rights in the country.

The French-Moroccan photographer was a rising star in the profession, having published work for publications such as the New York Times and Vogue.

She also exhibited her photography at the Marrakesh Biennial, Art Dubai, and galleries around the world, as well as the the Institut du Monde Arabe and Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. Her work is part of the collections of the Qatar Museum and Société Generale.

Leila Alaoui, from The Moroccans Photo: via

Leila Alaoui, from The Moroccans
Photo: via

“There was an internal light that illuminated both her and her work,” Jean-Luc Monterosso, the director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie told the New York Times.

“She was fighting to give life to those forgotten by society, to homeless people, to migrants, deploying one weapon: photography,” he added in a statement release in conjunction with Jack Lang, president of the Institut du Monde Arabe.

The attack in Ouagadougou—the capital of Burkina Faso, which has been claimed by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)—took place on Friday outside the Cappuccino Cafe and the Splendid Hotel, popular with ex-pats and UN workers.

Alaoui and her driver Mahamadi Ouedraogo were parked in a van outside the cafe, and both died as a result of the attack. Alaoui was shot twice and was wounded in the lung, abdomen, arm, and leg. She was taken to hospital, where she died of a heart attack during a six-hour operation.

Leila Alaoui <br> Photo: via Alaoui's Facebook

Leila Alaoui. 
Photo: via Alaoui’s Facebook

“I saw her before she left for Burkina Faso, and she said, ‘don’t worry, I have been to more dangerous places’,” the journalist Aida Alami, a childhood friend and roommate of Alaoui, told the New York Times. “She was so optimistic, she thought that nothing bad could ever happen to her,” Alami added.

Born in 1982 in Paris, Alaoui grew up in Marrakesh. She studied at the City University of New York and lived and worked between Morocco and Lebanon.

Leila Alaoui, from The Moroccans Photo: via

Leila Alaoui, from The Moroccans.
Photo: via

The death toll of the attack is currently being reported at 30 by the BBC, and includes casualties from Canada, Switzerland, Holland, the United States,  France, and Burkino Faso. At least three of the attackers died in the attack and dozens were wounded.

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