More Than 100 People Taken Hostage at Mali Hotel

  • PHOTO: In this image made available by Malikahere.com security personnel, attend close to the scene of an attack on a hotel in Bamako, Mali Friday Nov. 20, 2015. AP
    WATCH 170 People Taken Hostage at Mali Hotel

    Gunmen took 170 people hostage today at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali in West Africa, according to a Radisson Hotels representative. The Radisson Blu Hotel says 138 hostages remain inside — 125 guests and 13 employees — hours after gunmen stormed the building in the capital city of Bamako.

    At least two people are dead, according to a United Nations spokesperson.

    U.S. citizens might be at the hotel, according to a statement from State Department Spokesperson John Kirby, adding that the U.S. Embassy in Bamako is working to verify.

    About 25 U.S. military personnel were in Bamako at the time of the attack, a U.S. Defense official said. “We understand some of these personnel are assisting first responders with moving civilians to secured locations, while Malian forces clear the hotel of hostile gunmen,” the official said. There has not been a formal request for U.S. military assistance at this time, the official said.

    French President François Hollande, speaking in preparation of a climate conference, said, “The counter-assault has started. Tourists and companies executive from various nationalities are being held hostages.”

    Hollande added, “France is available to give the special forces the help they need.”

    PHOTO: Malian troops take position near the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Nov. 20, 2015.Habibou Kouyate/AFP/Getty Images
    Malian troops take position near the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Nov. 20, 2015.

    Olivier Salgado, of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali, said, “three people stormed the hotel with AK47s around 7a.m.” and “security forces from Mali were deployed around the hotel” immediately.

    Freelance journalist Katarina Hoije, who is at the scene, told ABC News that, “this is a hotel popular with Westerners and also many agencies working here, among them the U.N. peacekeeping mission who has staff staying at the hotel regularly.”

    The hotel said in a statement, “Our highest concern is the safety of all our guests and employees in the hotel. We are in constant contact with the authorities there and will share further information with you when we have it.”

    Radisson Blu receptionist Tambacouye Diarra told ABC News that he’s at the reception desk surrounded by special forces. He said the gunmen are also surrounded by special forces in the hotel.

    A gunman shot in his direction approximately 10 times, Diarra said. He said a gunman ran after him, but he was able to escape. Diarra said he saw people getting shot and some injured people being evacuated out of the hotel.

    ABC News - Mali AfricaABC News – Mali Africa
    ABC News – Mali Africa

    Thirty-two hostages have been released since the incident began, according to the hotel.

    Salgado said the three UN personnel who were in the hotel are now safe.

    Air France said all 12 of its crew members that were at the hotel are safe and Turkish Airlines said all seven of its crew members that were in the hotel were freed.

    The president of Mali tweeted that he is in Chad but will be returning to Bamako in the next couple hours.

    National Security Adviser Susan Rice briefed President Obama on the unfolding situation. He has directed his team to keep him apprised of developments.

    France, the former colonial power in Mali, launched airstrikes in Mali two years ago to prevent the establishment of a terrorist state after armed groups linked to al Qaeda took over vast stretches of Mali. French involvement in Mali eventually morphed into a larger operation that involved ground troops and French special forces. At its height, 4,000 French soldiers were largely successful in helping Mali push the al Qaeda-linked rebels out of the country.

Gunmen took 170 people hostage today at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali in West Africa, according to a Radisson Hotels representative. The Radisson Blu Hotel says 138 hostages remain inside — 125 guests and 13 employees — hours after gunmen stormed the building in the capital city of Bamako.

At least two people are dead, according to a United Nations spokesperson.

U.S. citizens might be at the hotel, according to a statement from State Department Spokesperson John Kirby, adding that the U.S. Embassy in Bamako is working to verify.

About 25 U.S. military personnel were in Bamako at the time of the attack, a U.S. Defense official said. “We understand some of these personnel are assisting first responders with moving civilians to secured locations, while Malian forces clear the hotel of hostile gunmen,” the official said. There has not been a formal request for U.S. military assistance at this time, the official said.

French President François Hollande, speaking in preparation of a climate conference, said, “The counter-assault has started. Tourists and companies executive from various nationalities are being held hostages.”

Hollande added, “France is available to give the special forces the help they need.”

PHOTO: Malian troops take position near the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Nov. 20, 2015.Habibou Kouyate/AFP/Getty Images
Malian troops take position near the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Nov. 20, 2015.

Olivier Salgado, of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali, said, “three people stormed the hotel with AK47s around 7a.m.” and “security forces from Mali were deployed around the hotel” immediately.

Freelance journalist Katarina Hoije, who is at the scene, told ABC News that, “this is a hotel popular with Westerners and also many agencies working here, among them the U.N. peacekeeping mission who has staff staying at the hotel regularly.”

The hotel said in a statement, “Our highest concern is the safety of all our guests and employees in the hotel. We are in constant contact with the authorities there and will share further information with you when we have it.”

Radisson Blu receptionist Tambacouye Diarra told ABC News that he’s at the reception desk surrounded by special forces. He said the gunmen are also surrounded by special forces in the hotel.

A gunman shot in his direction approximately 10 times, Diarra said. He said a gunman ran after him, but he was able to escape. Diarra said he saw people getting shot and some injured people being evacuated out of the hotel.

ABC News - Mali AfricaABC News – Mali Africa
ABC News – Mali Africa

Thirty-two hostages have been released since the incident began, according to the hotel.

Salgado said the three UN personnel who were in the hotel are now safe.

Air France said all 12 of its crew members that were at the hotel are safe and Turkish Airlines said all seven of its crew members that were in the hotel were freed.

The president of Mali tweeted that he is in Chad but will be returning to Bamako in the next couple hours.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice briefed President Obama on the unfolding situation. He has directed his team to keep him apprised of developments.

France, the former colonial power in Mali, launched airstrikes in Mali two years ago to prevent the establishment of a terrorist state after armed groups linked to al Qaeda took over vast stretches of Mali. French involvement in Mali eventually morphed into a larger operation that involved ground troops and French special forces. At its height, 4,000 French soldiers were largely successful in helping Mali push the al Qaeda-linked rebels out of the country.