abc.net.au 21 Nov 2015
Malian security forces are hunting three suspects connected to the attack on a hotel in the capital, Bamako, on Friday 20th, in which 19 were killed.
Two militants were also killed, after special forces stormed the hotel, freeing dozens of trapped guests.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its affiliate, al-Murabitoun, said they carried out the attack.
At least 21 people have been killed after suspected Islamist militants stormed a luxury hotel in Mali’s capital and took scores of guests and staff hostage.
What we know about the hostages:
- 170 (140 guests and 30 staff) taken hostage
- American, Turkish, French, Indian and Algerian nationals were in the hotel
- At least 19 hostages killed, including Russian and Chinese citizens
- Gunmen freed some, including those able to recite verses of the Koran
What we know about the gunmen:
- Reports as many as 10 attackers involved
- At least 2 attackers killed
- African Jihadist group claimed responsibility on Twitter, but not yet verified
- Attackers moved floor to floor in the hotel
- Gunmen heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) as they entered hotel
- Automatic weapons fire heard from outside hotel
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced the hostage death toll at 19 and said seven people were wounded in the attack. He said two militants had also died.
“Tonight the death toll is heavy,” Mr Keita said on state television, declaring a 10-day state of emergency and three days of national mourning.
A total of 170 people, including many foreigners, were inside the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako when the gunmen, driving a car with diplomatic plates, broke through security.
The hostages were held for several hours before Malian commandos made their move to free the 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 the stand-off.
A UN official earlier said peacekeepers searching the hotel made a preliminary count of 27 bodies, but the figure was revised down by the president’s office.
Chinese president Xi Jinping condemned the attack which claimed the lives of three Chinese executives with the state-owned China Railway Construction Corp.
Russia’s foreign ministry has also announced some of its citizens were killed.
US president Barack Obama called the attack “appalling”.
“This barbarity only stiffens our resolve to meet this challenge,” he said during a visit to Malaysia, referring to the global threat of extremist violence.
African jihadists claim responsibility
An African Jihadist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Al-Murabitoun, a group based in northern Mali and made up mostly of Tuaregs and Arabs, posted a message on Twitter saying it was responsible, as well as a video message that was broadcast by Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television.
“We the Murabitoun, with the participation of our brothers from Al-Qaeda in the Islam Maghreb (AQIM), claim the hostage-taking operation at the Radisson hotel,” said a man’s voice in an audio recording.
A security source said the gunmen had dug in on the seventh floor of the hotel as special forces advanced on them.
US and French special forces were on site to help in the rescue operation.
State television showed footage of troops in camouflage fatigues wielding AK47s in the lobby of the Radisson Blu. In the background, a body lay under a brown blanket at the bottom of a flight of stairs.
Mr Traore said the gunmen burst through security at the hotel entrance at 7:00am local time, spraying the area with gunfire and shouting “Allahu Akbar”, or “God is greatest” in Arabic.
Occasional bursts of gunfire were heard as the assailants went through the seven-storey building, room-by-room and floor-by-floor, one senior security source and a witness said.
MaliOfficially the Republic of Mali ( French: République du Mali), is a landlocked country in West Africa.
Mali is the eighth-largest country in Africa, with an area of just over 1,240,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi). The population of Mali is 14.5 million. Its capital is Bamako. Mali consists of eight regions and its borders on the north reach deep into the middle of theSahara Desert, while the country’s southern part, where the majority of inhabitants live, features the Niger and Senegal rivers.
The country’s economy centers on agriculture and fishing. Some of Mali’s prominent natural resources include gold, being the third largest producer of gold in the African continent, and salt. About half the population lives below the international poverty line of $1.25 (U.S.) a day. A majority of the population (55%) are non-denominational Muslims.