Gunmen attacked a five-star hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako on Friday and are holding 170 hostages.
Attackers shouting “Allahu Akbar” opened fire outside the Radisson Blu Hotel in the centre of the capital before storming it.
Speaking to Al Jazeera by phone from Bamako, business owner Garba Konate said a group of attackers showed up about three hours earlier. “About 10 gunmen arrived early in the morning and shot all the guards in front of the Radisson,” Konate said. Another witness said he helped a wounded guard to safety.
“I started hearing gunshots coming from the hotel,” said Ibrahim, 28, who works at a cultural centre 40 metres away. “Soon after I saw one of the guards running out, injured… The security guard told me the shooters were so quick that he doesn’t even know how many came in,” he told Al Jazeera.
Automatic weapon fire could be heard from outside the 190-room hotel where security forces set up a security cordon. A security guard told Reuters news agency at least two people were wounded. Idrissa Sangare, a local journalist at the scene, told Al Jazeera UN forces and Malian troops were working together in front of the hotel. “We don’t know who carried out the attack because the operation is still going on,” Sangare said. UN officials were having a function at the hotel, he reported. Read more
Earlier reports state that Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote was held hostage as well but he tweeted today that the reports are false.
Rumour about me being held hostage is false. I was in Mali yesterday.Thank you for your concern. My prayers with those involved.
— Aliko Dangote (@AlikoDangote) November 20, 2015