Mali Hostage Situation Over; 27 People Reported Dead, 2 Gunmen Killed

The Hostage situation is now over according to AFP. Here is the latest news from Reuters:

At least 27 people were reported dead on Friday after Malian commandos stormed a luxury hotel in the capital Bamako with at least 170 people inside, many of them foreigners, that had been seized by Islamist gunmen.

 

The former French colony has been battling Islamist rebels for several years, and the jihadist group Al Mourabitoun, allied to al Qaeda and based in the deserts of northern Mali, claimed responsibility for the attack in a tweet.

 

By late afternoon, ministerial adviser Amadou Sangho told the French television station BFMTV that no more hostages were being held.

 

But a U.N. official said U.N. peacekeepers on the scene had seen 27 bodies in a preliminary count, and that a search of hotel was continuing. It was not clear whether any of the gunmen, who were said to have dug in on the seventh floor of the hotel as special forces advanced on them, were still active.  

 

State television showed footage of troops in camouflage fatigues wielding AK47s in the lobby of the Radisson Blu, one of Bamako's smartest hotels and beloved of foreigners. In the background, a body lay under a brown blanket at the bottom of a flight of stairs.

 

The peacekeepers saw 12 dead bodies in the basement of the hotel and another 15 on the second floor, the U.N. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. He added that the U.N. troops were still helping Malian authorities search the hotel.

 

A man working for a Belgian regional parliament was among the dead, the assembly said

Update 10:59

Two gunmen killed in Mali hotel siege: Malian military

Update 10:40

Eighteen Bodies Recovered From Mali Hotel, AFP Says, cites foreign security source on number of bodies recovered. Mali gunman, “holding no more hostages,” AFP cites security minister

Update 9:50

Reuters reports that supporters of al-Qaeda-affiliated group claim responsibility for attack in Mali citing a Twitter post

Update: 9:35

Mali hotel gunment have dug in on building's seventh floor as special forces advance - Security source.  Some U.S. military personnel in Mali were helping move civilians to secure locations amid an attack at a luxury hotel in Bamako, a. U.S. defense official told Reuters on Friday.

About 25 American military personnel were in Bamako when Islamist gunmen stormed the hotel, the official said, adding that there has not yet been a formal request for U.S. military assistance. U.S. spokesman says U.S. special forces helping in Mali hotel incident

Update 8:50 am

124 guests, 13 staff still inside Radisson Blu hotel in Mali capital following gun attack - company statement

Update 8:00 am

A famous Guinean singer who was among 170 people taken hostage on Friday by Islamist gunmen in the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital, Bamako, said he heard attackers in the next room speaking English. "I heard them say in English 'Did you load it?', 'Let's go'," singer Sékouba 'Bambino' Diabate, who was freed by Malian security forces, told Reuters in Conakry. "I wasn't able to see them because in these kinds of situations it's hard."

Also Reuters adds, citing a witness outside the Radisson hotel, that "The attackers are still inside. We're hearing gunfire from time to time."

Update 7:04 am

A second assault is in course in the Radisson hotel, lead by US and French special forces according to Conflict News.

Update 6:56 am

AFP reports that eighty hostages freed in Mali hotel siege citing local TV, while CNN adds that the Mali hotel attackers arrived in vehicle(s) with diplomatic plates, had AK-47s - U.N. spokesman.

Update: 6:45 am

Reuters reports that roughly three hours since the siege began, Malian special forces entered the Radisson Blu in the capital Bamako on Friday after Islamist gunmen attacked the luxury hotel and took hostages, a witness and a police source said. "They've penetrated inside the hotel. The operations are under way," the police source said.

 

A live feed from SkyNews:

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Less than a week since the Friday 13th Paris terror attack, hours ago the newswires lit up with news of another terrorist attack at least 10 gunmen shouting and screaming "Allahu Akbar" attacked the Radisson Blu, a luxury hotel full of foreigners, in Mali's capital Bamako, taking 170 people hostage. The identity of the Bamako gunmen, or the group to which they belong, is not known

 

The location of the capital is shown below:

The Radisson hotel lies just west of the city centre near government ministries and diplomatic offices in the former French colony.  The identity of the Bamako gunmen, or the group to which they belong, is not known.

According to Reuters, the security source said as many as 10 gunmen had stormed the building, firing shots and shouting "Allahu Akbar", or "God is great" in Arabic. The Chinese state news agency Xinhua said several Chinese tourists were among those trapped inside the building.

The Chinese state news agency Xinhua said several Chinese tourists were among those trapped inside the building.

The company that runs the hotel, Rezidor Group, said it understood that there were two gunmen although AP has since added there were at least 10 gunmen.

"According to our information, two people are holding 140 clients and 30 employees," it said in a statement quoted by the BBC.

A senior member of the hotel's security detail said two private security guards had been injured in the early stages of the attack, which began at 7 a.m. (0700 GMT).

The official response has been swift and according to witnesses in the area police had surrounded the hotel and were blocking roads leading into the neighbourhood. The U.S. Embassy tweeted that it was "aware of an ongoing active shooter operation at the Radisson Hotel," and instructed its citizens to stay indoors.

A French diplomatic source added that Malian special forces at the scene of hotel siege, France providing logistics and intelligence support.

Reuters notes that the hotel gunmen have since free some hostages, including those able to recite verses of the Koran.

French nationals are among those held in the siege of a luxury hotel in Mali's capital Bamako on Friday, a source close to French President Francois Hollande said. "We are still awaiting more precise information that's been checked out. French people are present. The president is following the situation closely," the presidential source said.

Separately, a diplomatic source said that Malian special forces were at the scene and that France was providing logistical and intelligence support.

As a reminder, northern Mali which has been the locus of French military intervention in recent years, was occupied by Islamist fighters, some with links to al Qaeda, for most of 2012. Although they were supposedly driven out by the French, sporadic violence has continued.

Bloomberg notes that Malian, French and US security forces have since stormed the hotel where at least three are dead, including a french citizen, while 15 hostages hav been released.

Security forces drive an armored vehicle near the Radisson hotel in Bamako, Mali, November 20, 2015. REUTERS/Adama Diarra

A video recap from France 24:

Updates to follow