Terrorists took hostages at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali, a short distance away from the U.S. Embassy. The Embassy advised people to shelter in place during the attacks. More than 100 people were reportedly taken hostage, with small numbers escaping or being released little by little.
Here’s what we know.
1. Terrorists May Have Taken As Many As 170 People Hostage at the Hotel, Freeing People Who Could Recite the Koran
Early reports said that two to three gunmen launched a shooting rampage at the luxury hotel, The Tribune reported. IBTimes reported that the people involved arrived with diplomatic cars and started shooting in the hotel garden, possibly forcing their way through a security barrier around 7 a.m. GMT, before entering the hotel. Some reports said as many as 10 gunmen were involved.
Reuters reported that the gunmen freed some people who could recite the Koran.
The hotel is located in the center of Bamako, the Malian capital. Witnesses could hear automatic weapons fire and security personnel have cordoned off the area. The gunmen may have taken 140 hotel guests and 30 hotel staff hostage. Some reports said that crew for Air France stayed at this hotel, but management later said the crew were moved days earlier for security reasons following the Paris attacks. BBC reported that several Chinese guests may also have been trapped in the hotel.
2. Some Reports Say That at Least Three People May Have Already Died
At least three people have died, two Malian citizens and a French citizen. Two private security guards were also among the injured. Reuters reported that the gunmen entered the hotel yelling “Allahu Akbar.”
The hotel is frequently visited by foreigners. The neighborhood the hotel is located in is home to diplomats and government officials, NY Daily News reported. Early reports said that Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, was in the hotel and possibly among the hostages. However, Dangote’s sources confirmed this was not true and he was in Lagos. He recently tweeted confirming that he was in Mali the day before the attack, but had already left by the time the attacks occurred:
3. The Attack Progressed to the Seventh Floor & Witnesses Reported an Explosion
Witnesses said that the hostages were being held on the seventh floor of the hotel, The Tribune reported. They said that jihadists were firing in the corridor, IBTimes reported. One person who was in the hotel and witnessed the attack said he stepped out of the gym in the hotel lobby and saw bullets on the ground:
Among the people who escaped the hotel were some Turkish Airlines staff and Guinean singer Bambino, BBC reported. Bambino said he woke up to the sound of gunshots and thought it was just from some bandits in the hotel. He soon realized he wasn’t dealing with petty criminals.
4. The U.S. Embassy Asked People to Shelter in Place
The U.S. Embassy asked people to shelter in place while the siege was ongoing and not to roam around the streets. Meanwhile, French and Malian troops deployed around the hotel, according to BBC. At least 20 hostages were freed so far. It’s not believed that this attack is tied to ISIS, but likely another radical Islamist group called Ansar al-Din, according to the BBC.
5. This Is One of Many Attacks That Have Happened Recently in the Region
This attack is one of many that have happened in the region recently, The Tribune reported. In August, a nearly 24-hour siege took place at another hotel in the town of Sevare, where hostages were also taken. Four gunmen, five UN workers, and four soldiers were killed. A peace deal was made in Mali in June between former Tuareg rebels and a rival pro-government group, but attacks have continued. In 2012, northern Mali fell to Al Qaeda militant groups, that were later ousted in 2013 by a French military operation.
Read more about the attack on the Radisson Hotel in Mali in Spanish at AhoraMismo.com: