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Jihadi group names attackers responsible for deadly hotel siege in Mali

Two separate organisations have now claimed responsibility for the attack on the luxury Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako.

Tight security surrounded Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as he visited the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on Saturday.
Tight security surrounded Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as he visited the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on Saturday.
Image: Jerome Delay/AP/Press Association Images

MALI BEGAN A three-day mourning period with flags flying at half-mast today for victims of the assault on a luxury hotel in the country’s capital.

The Islamic extremist group, Al-Mourabitoun, that first claimed responsibility for Friday’s assault issued a new audio recording identifying the two gunmen, according to a Mauritanian news site that often receives messages from Malian extremists.

The group said the two were the only assailants in the attack that killed 19 people. Initial reports from witnesses and officials suggested there could have been as many as 10 gunmen.

The bodies of only two gunmen were recovered from the scene.

The recording from the Al-Mourabitoun (The Sentinels) group named the gunmen as Abdel Hakim Al-Ansari and Moadh Al-Ansari, Al-Akhbar said in an article posted online yesterday.

No nationalities were given, though the name “Al-Ansari” suggests they were both Malian.

Mali Attack An ambulance waits outside the Radisson after Friday's attack. Source: Associated Press

Meanwhile, a different extremist group that emerged only this year also issued a claim of responsibility for the attack.

The claim, reported yesterday by French media, underscores the shifting alliances and memberships of the extremist groups operating in Mali and nearby countries.

The new group, the Macina Liberation Front, is active in central Mali and said it had worked with yet another militant group, Ansar Dine.

The claim said the attack was in retaliation for Operation Barkhane, the regional French fight against Islamic extremists, according to Radio France Internationale.

Officials in this former French colony have said they are searching for more than three suspects who may have been involved in the attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, though they have provided no other details on the possible leads.

Mali Hotel Attack Sekouba Bambino, a famous Guinean singer, centre, leaves the Radisson Blu after returning to pick up his belongings. Source: Associated Press

In the absence of clear information, analysts have speculated on other possible motives, including a desire to disrupt Mali’s fragile local peace process or a wish by al-Qaida to demonstrate its relevance amid high-profile attacks by its rival, the Islamic State group.

Al-Mourabitoun has links to al-Qaida and the group’s first statement on Friday described collaboration with al-Qaida’s “Sahara Emirate”.

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

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Associated Press

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