Mali attacks - blot on humanity, distortion of religion

November 21, 2015 11:41
Mali attacks - blot on humanity, distortion of religion

Islamist gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Mali's capital on Friday, firing automatic weapons and seizing more than 170 guests and staff in a hostage-taking and left at least 27 people dead. The Mali state television said that the government has declared a 10-day state of emergency beginning at midnight.

The jihadist group Al-Murabitoun claimed responsibility. "We the Murabitoun, with the participation of our brothers from Al-Qaeda in the Islam Maghreb, claim the hostage-taking operation at the Radisson hotel," said a man's voice in an audio recording broadcast by Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television.

Special forces staged a dramatic floor-by-floor rescue at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, to end the nine-hour siege. "The hostage-taking is over. We are in the process of securing the hotel," a Malian military source said.

"At first I thought it was a carjacking. Then they killed two guards in front of me and shot another man in the stomach and wounded him and I knew it was something more," said Modi Coulibaly, a Malian legal expert who saw the assault start.

"These people started shooting. They were shooting at everybody without asking a single question. They were shooting at anything that moved," Tamba Couye said of the attack at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako.

France's defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that several countries had long been searching for Belmokhtar, head of the Al-Murabitoun group. "He is likely behind this attack, although we are not completely certain of it," Le Drian told France's TF1 television channel.

A US citizen died in the attack on a luxury hotel in Bamako, Mali. While, six Americans were recovered safely and U.S. special forces assisted in the rescue efforts, US officials said earlier. "Mali forces have the lead in Bamako," Africa Command said in a tweet. "Small team of US troops assisting with relocating rescued hostages."

A United Nations official said U.N. Peacekeepers are searching the hotel and had made a preliminary count of 27 bodies. The government has held an emergency cabinet meeting on Friday night and was expected to give an official death toll later.

A Chinese state-owned company said that three of its senior executives were among the dead. China Railway Construction Corp identified the victims as Zhou Tianxiang, general manager for the corporation’s international group; Wang Xuanshang, a deputy general manager of the international group; and Chang Xuehui, general manager of the group’s west Africa division. China’s foreign affairs ministry confirmed the four deaths and said four other Chinese citizens were rescued.

The American victim was named as Anita Ashok Datar, an international aid agency worker from Maryland and former member of the Peace Corp.

By Premji

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