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Friday, November 20, 2015

Gunmen seize hostages at Radisson hotel in capital of Mali, Reports say 80 hostages freed so far - Live updates.

Gunmen seize hostages at Radisson hotel in capital of Mali, Reports say 170 people are being held hostage. (RT).(FR24).

Automatic weapons fire broke out in the luxury 190-room hotel, where security forces have set up a security cordon, according to witnesses. At least two private security guards at the hotel were injured in the attack, the hotel’s security chief told Reuters.

"A hostage-taking or attempted hostage-taking is in progress," said FRANCE 24 correspondent Serge Daniel, reporting from Bamako shortly after gunfire broke out in the Malian capital. Daniel said that security forces had established a security perimeter and that the hotel was "completely sealed off".

Five of the six Turkish Airlines staff who had been held at hostage at the Radisson Blue hotel in Bamako have been released according to reports from Al Jazeera. There had earlier been reports that three of the airline employees had managed to escape from the hotel.

Malian security forces have arrived at the site, which is located just west of the city centre near ministry headquarters and diplomatic missions. Nearly two hours after the attack began, a security source told the AFP that security officials escorted two women out of the building.

"It's all happening on the seventh floor, jihadists are firing in the corridor," a security source told AFP.

Witnesses told FRANCE 24's Daniel that the attackers arrived at the hotel in a car with diplomatic license plates.

There were conflicting reports on the number of gunmen at the hotel. A Radisson employee at the site told the French weekly, Jeune Afrique, that three heavily armed men entered the building around 7am local time.

A security source however told Reuters that as many as 10 gunmen stormed the building, firing shots and shouting “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great,” in Arabic.

The Rezidor Hotel Group, which runs the hotel, issued a statement saying that, “as per our information two persons have locked in 140 guests and 30 employees,"

The Radisson Blu is one of Bamako’s most exclusive hotels, which hosts a number of international visitors and business people. The Chinese state news agency Xinhua said several Chinese tourists were among those trapped inside the building.

The US Embassy in Bamako issued a statement on Twitter stating that it was aware of an, “ongoing active shooter operation at the Radisson Hotel”. Another message said, “The U.S. Embassy staff has been asked to shelter in place. All U.S. citizens should shelter in place.”

Terrorist group behind the attack is reportedly 'Ansar al-Din' Meaning 'Defenders of the faith. 

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