Gunmen have killed 3 people and are holding another 170 hostage in a hotel in Mali
AP Photo/Harouna Traore
At least three hostages, one French and two Malian, have been killed in the siege after gunmen stormed the building shouting "Allahu Akbar," according to AFP.
The raid on the Radisson Blu hotel, which lies just west of the city center near government ministries and diplomatic offices in the former French colony, comes a week after Islamic State (IS) militants killed 129 people in Paris.
The gunmen have taken the hotel floor by floor, and according to a report in The Telegraph, are freeing hostages if they can recite verses from the Qur'an.
A spokesperson for the Malian forces told AFP that they were able to free "around a dozen people."
The identity of the Bamako gunmen, who entered the building with rifles and grenades, is not known. It is not clear if they are affiliated with a terrorist organisation.
AP Photo/Harouna Traore
Northern Mali was occupied by Islamist fighters, some with links to al Qaeda, for most of 2012. Although they were driven out by a French-led military operation, sporadic violence has continued.
The 190-room hotel is popular with western business people, diplomats, and politicians. Among those inside the hotel were six Turkish Airline personnel, three of which managed to escape, and three UN employees, all of which were evacuated. The hotel was also hosting a massive international mining conference meaning the hotel was likely hosting several executives from the industry.
The US embassy in Mali has urged American citizens in the country to follow orders from local authorities and remain sheltered.
SECURITY MESSAGE (2/4) The U.S. Embassy staff has been asked to shelter in place. All U.S. citizens should shelter in place.- U.S. Embassy Bamako (@USEmbassyMali) November 20, 2015
The Chinese state news agency Xinhua said several Chinese tourists were among those trapped inside the building.
"According to our information, two people are holding 140 clients and 30 employees," it said in a statement quoted by the BBC.
A senior member of the hotel's security detail said two private security guards had been injured in the early stages of the attack, which began at 7 a.m. (0700 GMT).
Witnesses in the area said police had surrounded the hotel and were blocking roads leading into the neighborhood. One local tweeted the below: "Some images of the panic in the streets near the hotel."
The U.S. Embassy tweeted that it was "aware of an ongoing active shooter operation at the Radisson Hotel."
An Islamist group claimed responsibility for the death of five people last March in an attack on a restaurant in Bamako that is popular with foreigners.
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