The deadly hostage situation at a hotel in Mali’s capital city appeared to come to an end Friday, but the fate of dozens of guests and hotel workers was still unclear. At least one guest reported the attackers instructed him to recite verses from the quran before he was allowed to leave the hotel.
News 9 The attack took place just after 7.10am, when gunmen shot their way past guards into the hotel and then sealed themselves in, taking some 140 guests and 30 members of staff hostage. Security forces launched a counter-assault within a few hours amid reports that the gunmen were moving from floor to floor, shooting guests.
Local media reported there were no more hostages by Friday afternoon. United Nations peacekeepers say they saw at least 27 bodies inside the hotel in Bamako, Sky News reports. It was not immediately clear whether attackers were still alive inside the hotel. Al Qaeda-linked jihadists claimed responsibility for the siege.
10 gunmen stormed the hotel Friday morning shouting “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great,” in Arabic before firing on the guards. A staffer at the hotel who gave his name as Tamba Diarra said over the phone that the attackers used grenades in the assault.
Al-Mourabitoun, a militant group based in northern Mali, said on Twitter that it was behind the attack, but the claim could not immediately be verified. The group is led by notorious one-eyed jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who gained recognition in 2013 for an attack on an Algerian gas plant that left 40 people dead, including three Americans.
Mali has suffered several attacks this year. despite peace accords signed in June. Violent Muslim extremist groups have been behind shootings, bomb attacks and assassinations around the country.
Video below reports on this Muslim attack as well as previous ones in Mali: