Mali: Mali government declared 10 days of emergency in the city after Heavily armed Islamic extremists seized dozens of hostages Friday at a Radisson hotel, but Malian troops, backed by US and French special forces, swarmed in to retake the building and free many of the terrified captives.
At least 20 people were killed along with two gunmen during the more than seven-hour siege, a Malian military commander said. An extremist group led by former al-Qaeda commander Moktar Belmoktar claimed responsibility for the attack in the former French colony, and many in France saw it as a new assault on their country’s interests a week after the Paris attacks.
Following a crisis cabinet session presided over by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the government has declared a 10-day nationwide state of emergency. It has also called for three days of mourning for the victims of the attack.
While French President Francois Hollande did not link the violence at the Radisson Blu hotel with last week’s bloodshed in Paris, he declared that France would stand by the West African country.
“Once again, terrorists want to make their barbaric presence felt everywhere, where they can kill, where they can massacre. So we should once again show our solidarity with our ally, Mali,” he said.
Army Cmdr. Modibo Nama Traore said late Friday that 20 people had been killed, including an official. In addition, he said five people were injured including two police officers.
A UN official had earlier said initial reports put the number of dead at 27, but that different casualty figures have been reported and the organization is working with authorities to get an exact total. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the operation was still ongoing.