DİHA - Dicle News Agency


Mali attack: Special forces storm hotel to free hostages

20 November
16:20 2015

NEWS DESK (DİHA) - Malian special forces have entered the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali's capital, Bamako, to end a siege by gunmen. The hotel says 138 people remain inside. The gunmen stormed the US-owned hotel, which is popular with foreign businesses and airline crews, shooting and shouting "God is great!" in Arabic.

Malian officials said 30 hostages have been freed. State TV earlier put the figure at 80. Three people have been shot dead and two soldiers wounded, officials say. Interior Minister Salif Traore said the soldiers' lives were not in danger.

Security forces have reportedly begun a counterassault on a hotel in the capital of the West African nation of Mali, where officials say gunmen took dozens of hostages and killed at least three people Friday morning.

The situation began around 7 a.m. at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, when two or three attackers stormed the hotel, firing guns and taking a number of hostages, officials said.

By noon, at least 80 hostages had been freed, the country's state broadcaster, ORTM, reported. The hotel had 140 guests and 30 employees, hotel officials said, though Malian Security Minister Salif Traore said on ORTM that it wasn't clear how many of the guests were there at the time of the attack.

The attackers, carrying AK-47 rifles, arrived around 7 a.m. in a vehicle or vehicles with diplomatic plates, said Olivier Saldago, a spokesman for the United Nations mission in Mali. Saldago said the hotel was host to a large delegation to peace talks in the country, a former French colony that has been battling Islamist extremists with the help of U.N. and French forces.

The gunmen fired as they entered the hotel, and the gunshots went on for several minutes, said witness Amadou Keita, who works at a nearby cultural center.

Two Malian nationals and a French national have died, a U.N. official said without elaborating. Two security personnel also are injured, Traore said.

Malian soldiers, with help from U.N. troops, had the hotel surrounded, a journalist for ORTM told from the scene.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the incident.