At least 27 people are dead after 170 innocent people were taken hostage at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, the capital of Mali, on Nov. 20 by suspected jihadi gunman, who started shooting inside the hotel and allegedly used a grenade during the attack. Hours later, all the remaining hostages have been freed from the hotel.
At least 170 hostages, including U.S. government employees, were taken after as many as 10 gunmen stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako on Nov. 20. At least 27 people are dead, but the rest of the hostages escaped with their lives after police forces bravely invaded the hotel. The gunmen were allegedly releasing Muslims but continued to hold non-Muslims hostage inside the hotel.
UPDATE: The U.S. Embassy confirmed that government employees were among the hostages trapped inside the hotel. A U.S. military spokesman said that U.S. and French special operations are assisting with the hostage situation. “U.S. forces have helped move civilians to secured locations as Malian forces clear the hotel of hostile gunmen,” said Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Falvo, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command, told CNN. At least two gunmen were shot during the standoff and six Americans were rescued.
The Malian military said 10 gunmen attacked the Radisson Blu hotel the morning of Nov. 20 shouting “Allahu Akbar, or “God is great,” in Arabic before firing their weapons on guards at the hotel, the New York Post reports. Hotel staff member Tamba Diarra claims that the attackers used grenades in the assault. The firing of automatic weapons have been heard on the seventh floor of the hotel, where the gunmen have been going floor to floor and taking 140 guests and 30 staff members hostage by locking them in, according to Daily Mail.
Initially, as many as 170 hostages were taken. However, 20 were later freed after they proved they were able to recite verses of the Koran back to the gunmen. Others inside the hotel have managed to escape.
Two Malians, a Belgian diplomat and one French national have been killed in the attack. Two employees for Turkish Airlines, 10 Chinese nationals and French people are believed to be hostages. Air France crew members often stay at the hotel. The Radisson is part of the Brussels-based Rezidor Hotel group. Since the horrific Nov. 13 Paris terror attacks, police have been rounding up suspected terrorists in Belgium.
After a military coup in 2012, Islamic extremists took control of northern Mali. However, a French-led military came in and pushed the extremists out in early 2013. Mali remains an unstable place and a target for extremists.
The US Embassy in Bamako asked Embassy staff to seek cover. The Embassy tweeted that all Americans in Mali should “shelter in place.”
Our thoughts go out to all the victims of this senseless attack.
— Avery Thompson