Photos Of The Mali Hotel Hostage Situation Are Frightening And Filled With Confusion
U.S. and Malian security forces swept the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali, floor by floor, on Friday after gunmen stormed the hotel with assault rifles and grenades while yelling "God is great" in Arabic. The gunmen are no longer holding hostages, though it's unclear just why or what happened to them. Reports suggested that at least three of the gunmen were killed, according to the Telegraph. A photographer for Reuters tweeted that U.N. officials have found 27 bodies since the hostage incident was declared over Friday afternoon. Photos of the Mali hotel hostage situation are frightening and confusing.
African jihadist group Al-Mourabitoun, which has links to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack in Mali, though the claim hasn't yet been verified. The Telegraph reported that Iyad Ag Ghaly, the leader of an Islamist militant group, called for attacks on French forces in Mali three weeks ago, saying that the French were oppressing the people of Mali. France has been involved in efforts to drive extremists out of Mali for the past few years, according to the Washington Post.
So far, only one of the dead have been identified. Geoffrey Dieudonne, a Belgian government official, was among one of the first three people killed in the attack, according to the BBC. At least six people were injured in the attacks and have been hospitalized, according to CNN. Photos of the hostage situation at the Radisson Blue in Bamako show just how terrifying and confusing the incident has become.
The hostage situation ended mysteriously Friday afternoon. Mali's Security Minister Salif Traore told journalists that military personnel were "in the process of tracking [the attackers] down," though it's unclear if that means the remaining attackers escaped or were still inside of the hotel, according to the BBC.
The Radisson Blu in Bamako is frequented by diplomats and rich foreigners, so the target seems to have been a strategic one. The CEO of Rezidor, which is the U.S. company that owns the hotel, expressed sympathy for those killed in the attack and their loved ones, according to the BBC:
I want to express my deep personal concern for all of the guests and employees affected by the terrible events which are happening today at the Radisson Blu Bamako Hotel in Mali. I speak on behalf of the entire Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group in extending our deep sympathy to the families, colleagues and friends of all those touched by today's events.
A journalist in the lobby of the Radisson Blu told the BBC that hostages could be seen leaving the hotel Friday afternoon. She said that many people had been trapped inside of their rooms during the attack and that, still, no one knew whether there were still attackers in the building. The AP reported that soldiers in full combat gear could be seen carrying or escorting hostages to safety.