UPDATE: Gunmen have taken 170 hostages, killing three so far at the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako. The gunmen are reported to be releasing people that can recite verses from the Quran.
Automatic weapon fire was heard from outside the 190-room hotel in the city-centre where security forces have set up a security cordon, according to Agence France Presse. Security sources told AFP the gunmen were “jihadists” who had entered the hotel compound in a car that had diplomatic plates.
“It’s all happening on the seventh floor, jihadists are firing in the corridor,” one security source said.
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.
French troops are believed to have been stationed at the hotel….
BAMAKO, Mali — Gunmen attacked a popular hotel in Mali’s capital on Friday with guns and grenades, authorities and a witness said.
A staffer at the Radisson Blu hotel who gave his name as Tamba Diarra said over the phone that the attackers used grenades in the assault. He did not have information on casualties or the number of assailants involved, but said he was not aware of hostages having been taken at the hotel.
The U.S. Embassy in Mali asked citizens to shelter in place amid reports of an “ongoing active shooter operation” at the hotel, raising fears of an attack by extremists.
Reports of gunfire surfaced Friday morning on social media, though Lt. Col. Diarran Kone, an adviser with Mali’s defense ministry, says it is not yet clear what has happened….(read more)
Didier Nourisson, a spokesman for the embassy, said Friday that the man had been shot by an unidentified gunman.
France launched a military offensive in January to oust radical jihadists who had overtaken the major towns across northern Mali. The French military has since reduced its presence but still has about 3,200 members in its former colony.
Northern Mali has seen suicide bombing and mortar attacks aimed at French forces, but violent crime targeting foreigners in the capital, in the south, is rare.