United States, France and Malian special forces are now attempting to rescue at least 170 hostages seized at the Radisson Blu Hotel in the capital of Bamako. So far 80 hostages had been released or have escaped with the raid under way, Reuters reported. A group of gunmen attacked the hotel on Friday, killing at least three people and taking scores of hostages. According to multiple sources there are United States government officials staying in the hotel.
At this point no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which unfolded one week after the attacks in Paris that killed 129 people. The AP is reporting that least one guest earlier stated that the attackers instructed him to recite verses from the Quran before he was allowed to leave the hotel.
Multiple media outlets are reporting that at least 10 gunmen stormed the hotel before firing on the guards and taking hostages. Reports said the attackers drove up in vehicles bearing diplomatic license plates, thereby gaining easy access to the hotel.
Both the United States Embassy and the French Embassy in Mali asked citizens to shelter in place amid reports of an “ongoing active shooter operation” at the hotel in Bamako.
Twelve Air France crew members staying at the hotel were safe, the French airline said on Friday, but as a precaution, Air France flights from and to Bamako for Friday have been canceled, it said. Turkey also said five Turkish Airlines staff had been rescued from the hotel.
The Indian Foreign Ministry said that 20 of its nationals were at the Bamako hotel. Their safety status is not yet clear.
China’s official state Xinhua News Agency quoted a Chinese guest as saying via a mobile chat app that several Chinese were among the guests trapped at the hotel.
On Friday, French President Francois Hollande says France was ready to help Mali with all means necessary in the wake of the hotel attack.
About 1,000 French troops are stationed in the country. The Netherlands also has troops working with the U.N. mission in Mali. According to the Dutch defense ministry, some 450 Dutch military personnel are taking part in the mission along with four Apache and three Chinook helicopters. Most of the Dutch force is based in Gao, but there are a few officers at the U.N. mission headquarters in Bamako.