Malian special forces storm Friday gave Radisson Blu Bamako, scene of a mass hostage-taking, where many of the 170 people in the establishment, including many foreigners, were released. At least one Quebecer would be among the released hostages.
Total ‘125 customers and 13 employees “were” always in the building “of the Radisson hotel in Bamako where a hostage was underway on Friday, said the Rezidor Hotel Group in London.
At least one Quebecer likely would be part of the freed hostages. The man interviewed by a reporter from French television France 24 speaks with an accent akin to a Quebec accent.
“According to our latest information, 125 customers and 13 employees are still in the building” Radissson Blu Hotel Bamako, said the Rezidor Hotel Group in a statement to 12 h 45 GMT (7 pm 45 hour Montreal). A spokesman for the group confirmed to 13 h 50 GMT (8 am 45 in Montreal) that the information was still valid.
According to the Ministry of Security, the attackers are among “two or three” witnesses reporting a “dozen assailants’ weapons.
At midday, the Malian state television announced that about “80 hostages” had been released. “Our special forces have freed hostages and thirty others were able to escape on their own,” said for his part Colonel Traore.
Several media evoked the release of hostages by Islamic terrorists suspected. According to testimonies gathered, the jihadists have released some people after asking them to recite a passage from the Koran.
According to the continuous news channel CNN, Americans are also among the hostages.
US Special Forces provide assistance to Mali to rescue the hostages, the Pentagon said Friday.
“The American forces to help civilians in safe havens while the Malian Forces secure the hotel,” said the Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza. For its part, the US Embassy in Bamako “verify” the information that American citizens were in the hotel at the time of the attacks, the State Department said.
President Francois Hollande on Friday called the French being “in sensitive countries” to take “precautions” and forty members of the Task Force of the National Gendarmerie (GIGN) left for Mali.
French special forces are already present at the Radisson Blue, according to the Ministry of Defence.
The attack on the Radisson hotel favored by international customers, around 7 am GMT (2 hours in Montreal), comes exactly a week after deadly attacks claimed by the Armed Islamic Group State who made 129 dead in Paris.
According to the Rezidor Hotel Group, which manages the Radisson Blu, located near the center of Mali’s capital, was home at the time of the attack “140 customers and 30 employees.”
Given its size and the number of people present, much of them were locked in rooms and were therefore not under direct threat of the kidnappers, said the Ministry of Security.
The attackers returned to the hotel compound at the same time that a car with a diplomatic plate on which they opened fire, the ministry said, correcting previous information that they would have arrived aboard diplomatic vehicle.
Automatic weapons fire were heard from outside of the hotel which has 190 rooms. “It happens at the seventh floor, jihadists are firing in the corridor,” said a security source told AFP.
Besides Malian police and military, special forces of the gendarmerie were deployed on site, which were also visible members of the UN force in Mali, the MINUSMA, and the French force barkhane, as a photographer of the AFP.
‘Obvious Target “
Among the evacuees customers an AFP journalist saw three people, including two women, one Turkish and one Ivorian, who said they saw the body of a man with fair skin lying on the ground.
At least three of the institution guards were injured, one seriously hit by gunfire, according to a rescuer.
An AFP reporter also saw a policeman shot and wounded.
Foreigners, including twelve employees of Air France, now “safe place”, according to the company, seven Turkish Airlines, five of which were evacuated, and at least seven Chinese were staying in the hotel.
A Chinese tourist, told the official Xinhua news agency, after the first shots around 6: 30 pm GMT (1 hour 30 in Montreal), followed by “sporadic shootings,” the smell of smoke spread in corridors and rooms, the internet has been cut and the hotel reception was unresponsive to phone calls. ”
A French consultant who requested anonymity accustomed Radisson, said it was “an obvious terrorist target,” stressing that private guards pass the metal detector under the cars’ when knew (the driver) they spent no more. ”
The civilian personnel of MINUSMA received a confinement order and the US Embassy called on its nationals to “stay safe”.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, who was in N’Djamena, Chad, for a summit of a group of countries of the Sahel, cut short his visit to return to Bamako.
This attack reminds the hostage of August 7 against a hotel in Sevare (center), who made a total of 13 dead, including four from the staff of a subcontracting company of MINUSMA and four attackers.
On March 7, the first deadly attack anti-Western in Bamako for a bar and restaurant, had killed five people, including a French and a Belgian.
Northern Mali fell in March-April 2012 under the control of jihadist groups linked to Al Qaeda after the rout of the army in front of the rebellion, first allied with these groups who then evicted.
They were dispersed and were largely driven out following the launch in January 2013, at the initiative of France, an international military intervention is ongoing.
But whole areas still outside the control of Malian and foreign forces. Long concentrated in the north, jihadist attacks have spread since the beginning of the year to the center, then from June to south.
In a record dating back to October and recently authenticated, the leader of the jihadist group Ansar Dine, ally of Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Iyad Ag Ghaly, called to continue the struggle against France.
The attack on the Radisson has so far not been claimed.
September Algerians exfiltrated Hotel
September Algerians, including six members of an official delegation, were released, announced the Algerian foreign minister was quoted by the APS.
The release of this delegation, composed especially diplomats intervened through the action of the combined forces of the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the Malian armed forces, said Ramtane Lamamra adding a seventh Algerian national, part in a French company, was also exfiltrated during this assault.