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Radisson hotel in Mali attacked; 170 hostages taken

A popular hotel in Mali’s capital was attacked by assailants carrying guns and grenades on Friday, authorities and a witness said.

A staffer at the Radisson Blu hotel who gave his name as Tamba Diarra said over the phone that the attackers used grenades in the assault. He did not have information on casualties or the number of assailants involved, but said he was not aware of hostages having been taken at the hotel.

The U.S. Embassy in Mali asked citizens to shelter in place amid reports of an “ongoing active shooter operation” at the hotel, raising fears of an attack by extremists.

Reports of gunfire surfaced on Friday morning on social media, though Lt. Col. Diarran Kone, an adviser with Mali’s defense ministry, says it is not yet clear what has happened.

Following a military coup in 2012, Islamic extremists took control of northern Mali, prompting a French-led military intervention in early 2013. The extremists were scattered 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 Bamako restaurant popular with foreigners, killing five people.

About 1,000 French troops remain in the country.

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