Gunmen Attack Hotel in Mali, 170 Hostages Taken + VIDEO

Fri Nov 20, 2015 15:24:51

170 people, including nationals from France and Turkey, have been held hostage by Unknown gunmen at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako.

Unidentified men opened fire in the Radisson Blu hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako. Two Malians and one French citizen were killed, a UN official said.

"They have locked in about 140 guests and about 30 employees. So the hotel is locked down and there is no possibility to go out or come in," NBC quoted the spokesperson as saying.

Belgian and French citizens, including military and aviation employees, are among the hostages, the media reported. Six staff employees of the Turkish Airlines are being held in the hotel, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. Ten Chinese guests are among the hostages, according to Chinese media.

Later reports cited senior security sources as saying the 190-room hotel was held up by 10 assailants.

"Terrorists are shooting on the seventh floor," French TV quoted a security source as saying. According to Liberation, the seventh floor is where the AirFrance crew members are usually hosted. French media reported that AirFrance crew often stop in the hotel.

The assailants are said to have spent the night in the hotel. Reportedly, they used grenades during the attack.

France's RFI radio reported earlier that three gunmen in diplomatic vehicles arrived earlier and began shooting in the hotel's gardens before entering the building. At least two security guards were wounded during the attack.

The US Embassy in Mali has confirmed the attack. Malian Prime Minister Modibo Keita summoned a crisis unit.

The hotel is very popular with foreigners. It is located in the center of Bamako in the vicinity of governmental buildings.

Security forces have established a perimeter around the hotel and sealed it off.

The Russian embassy currently has no information regarding Russians being involved in the siege, the embassy's administrative assistant Anton Plotnikov told RIA Novosti. "We are working on this, and can neither confirm nor deny anything at the time," he said.

"There has been information from other sources that a special operation is being carried out with the participation of an elite squad of Mali's national gendarmerie… That was a big group armed with weapons like the Kalashnikov assault rifles."

In recent months, Malian security services have thwarted several terror attacks plotted by The Macina Liberation Front — a group referred to as "a new Boko Haram" by local media.

In August, the African country was rattled by an attack by a suspected terrorists who killed 13 people, including five UN employees, during a 24-hour-long hostage siege in the town of Sevare, 370 miles northeast of Bamako.

The number of assaults, including rocket attacks, suicide bombings and land mines causing injuries and casualties among UN peacekeepers in Mali soared dramatically over the past year.

A French colony until 1960, Mali has been in turmoil since a 2012 military coup. Separatist tribes seized control over vast territories in northern Mali, and various terrorist groups including Boko Haram started to operate in the country, Sputnik reported.


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