Mali Hostage Siege Over, 27 Dead

(UPDATE 3 p.m.)       A U.N. official says initial reports from the field indicate that 27 people were killed in the attack on the Radisson hotel in Mali’s capital.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the operation is still ongoing, said 12 bodies were found in the basement and 15 bodies were found on the second floor.

The official stressed that the building had yet to be totally cleared.

Another U.N. official, U.N. Mali mission spokesman Olivier Salgado, said two extremists have been killed and that forces are going from room to room, checking for more casualties.


BAMAKO, Mali (AP) _ State TV in Mali is reporting that no more hostages are being held at a luxury hotel after a day-long siege by Islamic militants.

National broadcaster ORTM, citing security officials, said 18 bodies were found at the hotel so far and that no more hostages were being held.

It was not immediately clear whether the attackers were still inside.

Gunfire continued into the late afternoon, and a Malian army commander said operations were continuing.

Special forces troops from the U.S. and France are on the scene of the hotel attack in the African country of Mali.

A spokesman for the U.S. Army’s Africa Command says U.S. troops are helping Mali’s military in hostage rescue efforts.

He adds that at least six Americans have been evacuated from the hotel.

French officials say about 40 French special police forces are playing a support role there.

The attack is seen in France as a new assault on French interests, a week after the Paris attacks.

France has acted in the past against Islamic extremists in the former French colony — including a 2013 military operation against militants who were holding the northern half of the country.

An extremist group that two years ago split from al-Qaida’s North Africa branch and led by Moktar Belmoktar claimed responsibility for the attack, in a recorded statement carried by Al-Jazeera.

The group said it wanted fighters freed from Mali’s prisons and for attacks against northern Malians to stop.

The group, known as the Mourabitounes, was formed in 2013 after Belmoktar left al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and fused with a Malian militant group.

The statement issued Friday said the Mourabitounes had attacked in coordination with the “Sahara Emirate” affiliated with al-Qaida.