Within the last hour, the major wire services carried reports that gunmen shouting “Allahu Akbar,” attacked a hotel in Bamako, Mali, killing at least three people and taking 170 others hostage. Mali was formerly a French colony.
According to Reuters, Malian special forces were immediately dispatched in response to the incursions, managing to free some of the hostages. At the time of this post, operations are said to be ongoing.
A senior security source said that the gunmen burst into Radisson Blu hotel at 7 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET) with guns lazing and begun systematically working their way through the building, room by room and floor by floor.
Although the exact terrorist group affiliation of the gunmen has not yet been established, Mali has been battling rebels allied to al Qaeda for several years. In March, five were killed in in an attack on a restaurant in Bamako that is popular with foreigners, and in August, 17 were killed during an attack on a hotel in Sevare in central Mali. Responsibility for the second attack was claimed by the Sahara-based Islamist militant group al-Mourabitoun.
This morning’s raid on a hotel that is situated near government ministries and diplomatic offices comes a week after Islamic State militants killed 129 people in Paris.
The hotel’s head of security, Seydou Dembele, told reporters with Reuters, “We saw two of the attackers. One was wearing a balaclava. The other was black-skinned. They forced the first barrier.”
This is a developing story. New information will be added as it becomes available.