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Gunmen Attack Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali Taking More Than 100 Hostages

Seven Algerians, including six members of a Algerian diplomatic delegation, are safe after being trapped in the hotel in Mali’s capital, the state-run Algerie Presse Service reported Friday afternoon. The Algerians were freed during a counterassault by U.N. and Malian forces, the outlet reported. Security forces have reportedly launched a counterassault on the  hotel Security forces. The forcesconducted room-by-room searches amid sporadic gunfire. U.S. military units and French commandos were dispatched to the scene.

 

At least 80 captives managed to escape or were released by the attackers hours after the standoff begun, state TV reported in Mali. Some were reportedly freed after being able to recite the Muslim profession of faith.

 

But the hotel operators said more than 135 people, including 125 guests were believed held.

 

The situation began around 7 a.m. at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, when two or three attackers with AK-47 rifles exited at least one vehicle with diplomatic plates and entered the hotel with guns firing, said Olivier Saldago, a spokesman for the United Nations mission in Mali. Two Malian nationals and a French national have died, a U.N. official said without elaborating. The attack, Saldago said, came as the hotel hosted a large delegation to peace talks in the landlocked country, a former French colony that has been battling Islamist extremists with the help of U.N. and French forces. There was conflicting information about how many people were in the hotel. The Radisson chain said that as many as 170 people had been at the hotel at the start, and that 125 guests and 13 employees still were inside by early Friday afternoon.

 

By noon, the country’s state broadcaster, ORTM, reported that at least 80 people had been freed. But Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita released a statement indicating 17 had been rescued. Malian soldiers, with help from U.N. troops, had the hotel surrounded. Two security personnel also are injured, Malian Security Minister Salif Traore said on ORTM.

 

The Radisson Blu Hotel sits in an upscale neighborhood outside the center of Bamako, rising high above the dusty streets and surrounding houses. With 190 rooms and suites, it’s about a 15-minute drive from Bamako-Senou International Airport. The hotel is one of the most modern in the capital, as evidenced by its glass and brick facade and many amenities, including a restaurant that opens onto a veranda, a pool and a gym.

 

It’s known as a hub for international guests and affluent Malians who frequent it for meals and meetings, said CNN correspondent Nima Elbagir, who has stayed there.

 

 

Africa Team

 

Tags:Gunmen Attack Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali Taking More Than 100 Hostages
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