Dozens Killed in Mali Hotel Attack

Dozens Killed in Mali Hotel AttackDozens Killed in Mali Hotel Attack

At least 27 people were reported dead on Friday after Malian commandos, backed by French and US special forces, stormed a luxury hotel in the capital Bamako with at least 170 people inside, many of them foreigners, that had been seized by militants.

A UN official said peacekeepers on scene at the Radisson Blu Hotel saw 27 bodies. They added that two assailants involved in the attack were killed and wounded civilians were being evacuated, AFP reported.

"All remaining hostages at the Malian siege are now safe and out of the Radisson Blu in Bamako where they had been held," ministerial adviser Amadou Sangho told French television station BFMTV. "These people have been taken under the wing of the civil authorities."

The situation began around 7 a.m. local time, when two or three attackers with AK-47 rifles exited at least one vehicle with diplomatic plates and entered the hotel with guns firing, said Olivier Saldago, a spokesman for the United Nations mission in Mali.

Two Malian nationals and a French national died, a UN official said without elaborating. Geoffrey Dieudonne, a member of parliament in Belgium's Wallonia region was also among the victims.

The attack, Saldago said, came as the hotel hosted diplomatic delegations to peace talks in the landlocked country, a former French colony that has been battling extremists with the help of UN and French forces.

There was conflicting information about how many were in the hotel. The Radisson chain said that as many as 170 people had been there as the attack began, By noon, the country's state broadcaster, ORTM, reported that at least 80 people had been freed.

Reuters said militant group al-Murabitoun claimed responsibility for the attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital, Bamako. It made the announcement on its Twitter account, Reuters said.

Al-Murabitoun is made up of two groups which broke away from a North African branch of al-Qaeda.