Men shouting “God is great”, armed with guns and throwing grenades stormed into the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali’s capital on Friday morning and seized 170 hostages.
The U.S. Embassy in Mali asked citizens to shelter in place amid reports of an “ongoing active shooter operation” at the hotel in Bamako.
The U.S. and French embassies told their citizens in Bamako to take shelter wherever they are.
Following a military coup in 2012, Islamic extremists took control of northern Mali, prompting a French-led military intervention in early 2013 that forced the extremists from northern towns and cities, though the north remains insecure and militant attacks have extended farther south this year.
In March masked gunmen shot up a restaurant in Bamako, located in Mali’s south, that is popular with foreigners, killing five people.
Live updates from Reuters:
19:20 IST: Radisson Blu says 124 guests, 13 staff members still inside the hotel following gun attack.
18:22 IST: Hostage freed from Mali hotel says attackers spoke English.
17:52 IST: U.S. President Obama says monitoring the situation in Mali after attack on the hotel.
17:46 IST: Air France says 12 crew members were in Bamako hotel but have been evacuated and are now safe.
17:39 IST: Mali’s special forces clearing Radisson Hotel floor by floor, sporadic gunfire heard, says security source.
17:37 IST: French President Hollande says everything being done to free hostages held at Bamako’s Radisson Blu Hotel.
17:28 IST: Eighty hostages freed so far from luxury hotel in Bamako amid special forces — State broadcaster.
17:09 IST: Malian special forces enter Bamako Radisson Blu Hotel where Islamist gunmen are holding hostages.
17:05 IST: The Indians work for a Dubai-based company and were residing in the hotel permanently: MEA