Friday, November 20, 2015: Gunmen in Bamako, Mali take 170 civilians, including foreigners, hostage at Radisson Blu hotel on Friday morning. The perpetrators are believed to be Islamic radicals as Islamic slogans were heard during the first stage of the attack.
The Rezidor Group that owns the hotel chain said that majority of the people among the hostages taken by the gunmen are foreigners. The hotel is famous in the capital city of Malta for housing international dignitaries and diplomats.
“They have locked in about 140 guests and about 30 employees,” a spokesperson for the Carlson Rezidor group told the media. “So the hotel is locked down and there is no possibility to go out or come in.”
The US Embassy in Mali had warned the authorities about a heightened threat to the foreigners in the city. Though security measures had been taken, the specific nature of the threat had not been known. The Embassy has urged the US citizens to shelter at safe places.
“The U.S. Embassy staff has been asked to shelter in place,” US Embassy said in a statement. “All U.S. citizens should shelter in place. Private U.S. citizens are encouraged to contact their family. Monitor local media for updates. U.S. citizens should adhere to the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media.”
The local authorities have surrounded the hotel while the captors have seized the exits and entrances of the place. The Malian police has blocked all the roads to the hotel and is monitoring all the communications in and out of the hotel.
“As per our information the persons who have entered the building and have initiated the hostage-taking have locked the property, so it is not locked by police or other forces,” a security spokesperson said.
As of this moment, the nature of the terrorist act is not known, neither is identity of perpetrators is known. However, given the recent chain of events in the country in general and Bamako in particular, it is believed that the act is undertaken by one of the Islamist organizations active in the region. Moreover, Islamic slogans were heard at the time of the attack.
In 2012, an Islamist radical group took over swaths of the northern Malta. Most of its operatives and members were linked to al-Qaeda. The group controlled the region for most of 2012 before the French-led military operation ousted them. However, it is believed that they managed to scatter and remnants of the group are still in Mali.
The hostage situation in Mali comes exactly a week after the Paris attacks in France that left 132 people dead and more than 600 injured. According to latest updates, the mastermind of the Parisian atrocity, Abdelhamid Abaaoud was killed in a police raid in the St. Denis, suburb of Paris.
No one has still claimed responsibility of the hostage situation in Bamako, Mali.