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Dublin: 9°C Monday 25 October 2021

Al-Qaeda linked group kills 27 after nine-hour Mali hotel siege

An Al-Qaeda-affiliated group is reportedly claiming responsibility.

Updated 10.04 pm

Mali Attack Source: Harouna Traore

AT LEAST 27 people have been killed in a siege at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali with all remaining hostages now freed.

Supporters of an al-Qaeda-affiliated group are claiming responsibility for the siege in which more than 100 guests and staff were taken hostage.

A UN official is reporting that 27 bodies have been recovered so far with a Belgian regional assembly official among the dead. CNN reports that a French citizen has also died in the attack.

“We the Murabitoun, with the participation of our brothers from Al-Qaeda in the Islam Maghreb, claim the hostage-taking operation at the Radisson hotel,” said a man’s voice in an audio recording broadcast by Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television.

Al-Murabitoun, headed by Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, was founded in 2013 and presents itself as the West African branch of Al-Qaeda.

Security forces stormed the hotel and at least two gunmen have been killed, according to the Malian military.

The country’s security minister has now said that the gunmen in the hotel are ”holding no more hostages”.

“They currently have no more hostages in their hands and forces are in the process of tracking them down,” security minister Salif Traore told a news conference following a stand-off of several hours at Bamako’s Radisson Blu.
“The hostage-taking is over. We are in the process of securing the hotel,” the according to a Malian military source who spoke to AFP.

Source: ORTM TV

Special forces carried out a dramatic floor-by-floor rescue at the hotel in according to local television and security sources, eventually ending the siege about nine hours after it had begun.

An AFP journalist earlier this morning saw three freed hostages, including two women, who told him they had seen the body of a fair-skinned man lying on the floor of the hotel.

It is unclear exactly how many gunmen are involved with reports of between two and ten. Their identity is also unknown, though Reuters says supporters of an al-Qaeda-affiliated group are claiming responsibility for the attack.

Malian soldiers, police and special forces were on the scene as a security perimeter was set up, along with members of the UN’s MINUSMA peacekeeping force in Mali and the French troops fighting jihadists in west Africa under Operation Barkhane.

An elite unit of French counter-terrorism officers also travelled to Mali. A US defence official told Reuters some of its military personnel are assisting first responders with moving civilians to a secure location. About 25 US military personnel were in Bamako at the time of the incident.

Guests at the hotel

The news agency is also reporting that one of the freed hostages heard the attackers speaking English.

Automatic weapons fire could be heard early this morning from outside the 190-room hotel, where security forces have set up a security cordon. Sky News reports at least two security guards were injured in the assault.

France 24 reporter Serge Daniel, who is at the scene, said the terrorists were believed to be on the hotel floors occupied by expatriates and Europeans. Witnesses told him the attackers had arrived in a car with diplomatic licence places.

Mali Attack Source: AP/Press Association Images

Turkish Airlines had earlier said six members of its staff were trapped in the hotel. Twelve Air France employees who were staying at the Radisson Blu are “in a safe place” according to the airline.

The Xinhua news agency has also said at least seven Chinese hostages are in the hotel.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs has said there are no indications that any Irish citizens have been affected:

The department is monitoring this situation closely. We have not received any request for consular assistance in this case and there is no suggestion of any Irish affected. For some time our travel advice has advised citizens not to travel to Mali. Anyone with concerns should contact dDepartmenton 01- 4082527.

Six Americans are among those rescued from the hotel.

The shooting follows a nearly 24-hour siege and hostage-taking at another hotel in August in the central Malian town of Sevare.

Four soldiers, five UN workers and four attackers were killed in that incident.

- With reporting from AFP and Rónán Duffy

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