At least 22 people are dead in Friday’s hostage taking at a luxury hotel in Mali’s capital, AFP reports.
Special forces carried out a dramatic floor-by-floor rescue at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, according to local television and security sources, eventually ending the siege about nine hours after it had begun.
The assault added to fears about the global jihadist threat a week after the Paris massacre that left 130 people dead although it was not immediately clear if there was a link.
Malian television broadcast chaotic scenes from inside the hotel as police and other security personnel ushered bewildered and terrified guests along corridors and across the main lobby.
“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, according to AFP.
Malian security sources said at least 22 hostages had been killed, adding that French special forces were “participating in operations alongside Malians”.
Two of the gunmen had been killed, a Malian military source quoted by the news agency said.
“The hostage-taking is over. We are in the process of securing the hotel,” the source said on condition of anonymity.
Witnesses described around a dozen armed assailants, while security sources spoke of two or three “jihadist” attackers.
The men are believed to have entered the hotel around 0700 GMT at the same time as a car with diplomatic plates, with many guests still in their rooms.
A Belgian regional assembly official, in Mali for a convention, was among those killed, the parliament said, according to AFP.
India said 20 of its nationals were among the hostages while the Chinese Xinhua news agency said at least seven Chinese were involved.
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