Special Forces Intervene After Gunmen Take 170 Hostages At Mali Hotel

| by Jared Keever
The Radisson BluThe Radisson Blu

Special forces in Mali have stormed a luxury hotel in Bamako after gunmen reportedly took 170 people hostage. 

The events, which are still unfolding, began around 7 a.m. GMT on Nov. 20.

A senior security source told Reuters that the gunmen entered the Radisson Blu hotel, shouting “Allahu Akbar” which means “God is great” in Arabic. 

Hotel officials said they believed two armed men locked in 140 guests and 30 hotel employees, according to CNN.

A witness who works nearby told CNN she heard gunshots as the men entered the hotel and the gunfire continued for several minutes.

It remains unclear how many attackers initially entered the hotel. One security source told Reuters that two militants had died after special forces stormed the hotel. The security ministry, however, told the news site that the gunmen were still holed up in the upper levels of the hotel and engaged in a stand-off with special forces.

All hostages were reportedly removed from the hotel, though the total number of casualties from the incident are still unknown.

Reuters reports that the U.N. peacekeepers found 27 dead bodies in the hotel; CNN, however, reported that only 10 people were confirmed dead, while six more were hospitalized.

The jihadist group Al Mourabitoun, an al Qaeda affiliate, has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Reuters.

The attack in Mali comes just a day after French President Francois Hollande praised his troops for successfully fighting against Islamic extremists in the former French colony, CNN reports.

Hollande has promised to provide “necessary support” to help Mali resolve the crisis.

Sources: Reuters, CNN / Photo credit: Radisson Blu,