US embassy in Bamako advises citizens to seek shelter after tweeting of ‘ongoing shooter situation’ at Radisson hotel
Gunmen have attacked a Radisson hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako, and are holding 170 hostages, the hotel company has confirmed.
“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,” a source said.
Ten gunmen are involved, a security source told Reuters.
The raid targeted the Radisson Blu hotel, located just west of the city centre in a neighbourhood that is home to government ministries and diplomats, the sources said.
In a statement the US-based Rezidor group, which owns the hotel, said 140 guests and 30 staff were being held hostage.
“The Rezidor Hotel Group… is aware of the hostage-taking that is ongoing at the property today, 20th November 2015. As per our information two persons have locked in 140 guests and 30 employees,” the company said in a statement quoted by AFP.
“Our safety and security teams and our corporate team are in constant contact with the local authorities in order to offer any support possible to re-instate safety and security at the hotel,” it added.
The US embassy in Bamako said in a series of tweets that it was aware of an “ongoing shooter situation” and advised its citizens to seek shelter.
Northern Mali was occupied by Islamist fighters, some with links to al-Qaida, for most of 2012. Although they were driven out by a French-led military operation, sporadic violence continues.
An Islamist group claimed responsibility for the death of five people last March in an attack on a restaurant in Bamako popular with foreigners.