Over 27 Reported Dead in Siege by al–Qaeda Affiliate Group in Mali

Three confirmed dead, as 20 Indians among 170 hostages evacuated from Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali.

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Hours-long siege at the hotel leaves 27 dead. (Photo: AP)

At least 27 people have been reported dead in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali after two gunmen held 170 people hostage for more than eight hours.

A UN official , speaking on condition of anonymity because the operation is still ongoing, said 12 bodies were found in the basement and 15 bodies were found on the second floor. The official stressed that the building had yet to be totally cleared. The UN Mali mission spokesman Olivier Salgado, said two extremists have been killed and that forces are going from room to room, checking for more casualties.

Al-Mourabitoun, a group based in northern Mali and made up mostly of Tuaregs and Arabs, posted a message on Twitter saying it was behind the attack, the agency said. The claim could not immediately be verified.

Gunmen attacked the hotel with people from China, India, France, Turkey and various other nationalities.

All 20 Indians who were held hostage have been evacuated, the Ministry of External Affairs said earlier.

As The Quint had reported earlier, the Indians were employees of an electronic multinational giant. France24 has reported that the 20 people are employees of Lucky Goldstar (LG) electronics.

Six hours since the hotel came under siege, 117 people still remain hostage, according to Al Jazeera.

A TV image taken from inside the Radisson Blu hotel by Mali TV ORTM. (Photo: AP)
A TV image taken from inside the Radisson Blu hotel by Mali TV ORTM. (Photo: AP)

One of the freed hostage has reportedly claimed to have heard the gunmen speak in English.

American and French military has joined the Malian special forces in the operation to free the remaining hostages.

18 Indians Among Hostages

Nikhilesh Mohan Dhirar, Head of Chancery in the Indian embassy in Bamako has told The Quint that 18 Indians are trapped. All of them work for a large electronics company, he said, adding that they are housed in the hotel.

The embassy, situated 12-13 km away from the Radisson Blu, is trying to assess the situation in Bamako. The office has not issued an official statement yet.

No official statement has been issued by the Indian embassy in Bamako.
No official statement has been issued by the Indian embassy in Bamako.

At least three people have been killed in the siege, as Mali security forces are storming into the hotel, according to Reuters.

They’ve (Malian special forces) penetrated inside the hotel. The operations are under way.
Police Source in Mali to Reuters
An image of security personnel at the Bamako hotel published on Malikahere.com. (Photo: AP)
An image of security personnel at the Bamako hotel published on Malikahere.com. (Photo: AP)
We are awaiting more precise information that’s been checked out. French people are present. The president is following the situation closely.
Sources Close to French President Francois Hollande

According to the latest update from Mali security forces, 20 hostages have been evacuated.

President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, cut short his trip to neighbouring country Chad and returns to Mali in the wake of the attack.

A source close to French President Francois Hollande has revealed that French citizens are among those held hostage, according to Reuters. Chinese news organisation, Xinhua, has reported that at least seven Chinese among the hostages, reports AFP.

The raid on the Radisson Blu hotel, which lies just west of the city centre near government ministries and diplomatic offices in the former French colony, comes a week after Islamic State militants killed 129 people in Paris.

The US Embassy in Bamako has tweeted out security alerts for their staff and private citizens.

Identity of Gunmen Unknown

The identity of the Bamako gunmen, or the group to which they belong, is not known.

Northern Mali was occupied by Islamist fighters, some with links to al Qaeda, for most of 2012. Although they were driven out by a French-led military operation, sporadic violence has continued.

The security source said as many as 10 gunmen had stormed into the building, firing shots and shouting in Arabic.

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.

“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 said two private security guards had been injured in the early stages of the attack, which began at 7 am.

Witnesses in the area said the police had surrounded the hotel and were blocking roads leading into the neighbourhood.

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