|The military has surrounded the Radisson Blu Hotel in the Mali capital during the ongoing hostage situation where a reported 9 people have died.|
At least 10 attackers armed with guns and grenades have stormed a luxury hotel in Mali and taken 170 people hostage, it is reported.
Gunmen apparently used a vehicle to smash through security barriers at the US-owned Radisson Blu hotel in the capital Bamako at about 7am, according to local reports. The men shouted "Allahu Akbar" or "God is great" in Arabic before firing on the guards and taking hostages, Malian army commander Modibo Nama Traore said.
The Brussels-based Rezidor Hotel group, which runs the hotel, said the assailants had "locked in" 140 guests and 30 employees.
The hotel has been surrounded by Malian troops as a reported 10 gunmen stormed the area
Witnesses described hearing explosions and gunfire from the seventh floor of the hotel, which is used regularly by Air France staff, French newspaper Le Monde reports, as well as other airlines. At least nine people have been killed, who are reportedly French and Belgian citizens, while two security guards are said to have been injured.
Some hostages have been freed, including those able to recite verses from the Koran, according to security sources. Ambulances have been seen evacuating some wounded people from the area while it's reported that security forces have escorted two women from the hotel.
|Malian troops take position outside the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako during an apparent hostage situation |
"They have locked in about 140 guests and about 30 employees," a spokesperson for the the Carlson Rezidor group, which owns the hotel, told NBC News. "So the hotel is locked down and there is no possibility to go out or come in." A security source said: "Very early in the morning there was gunfire. Apparently it's an attempt to take hostages. The police are there and are sealing off the area."
|Security forces have surrounded the Radisson amid claims 170 hostages have been taken |
The 190-room Radisson Blu Hotel, which was reportedly 90% full, is close to many government offices and business sites. Witnesses in the area said police had surrounded the hotel and were blocking roads leading into the neighbourhood, while schools and businesses have been closed.
The U.S. Embassy tweeted that it was "aware of an ongoing active shooter operation at the Radisson Hotel," and instructed its citizens to stay indoors.
Meanwhile, Mali's president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is currently attending a security summit in Chad. He arrived in the capital N'Djamena for the G5 Sahel conference, which addresses security in the region.
The other participants are Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger. The G5 group was established in February 2014 to develop regional co operation in politics and security. Northern Mali was occupied by Islamist fighters, some with links to al Qaeda, for most of 2012, but this is the first time the capital city of Bamako has seen a suspected terror attack like today’s.
|The scene of the terror attack in Bamako, Mali|
The US-owned Radison Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali, where there is an apparent ongoing hostage situation
Source: Mirror, UK