27 people were killed in the hostage crisis in West African nation Mali on Friday. Three gunmen had besieged Radisson Blu, a luxury hotel in Mali’s capital city Bamako taking 170 people hostage after entering the hotel compound in a car that is told to have diplomatic plates. The assault, claimed by Al-Qaeda affiliate the Al-Murabitoun group, ended after a nine-hour by Malian and international troops. All three terrorists were killed in the police raid.
According to the authorities, special forces — including Malian, French and two US soldiers who also happened to be in the area — staged a dramatic floor-by-floor rescue, ending the siege.
“The hostage-taking is over. We are in the process of securing the hotel,” the Malian officials claimed soon after the raids.
The Malian government has also declared a 10-day nationwide state of emergency from midnight yesterday over the assault and called three days of mourning for the victims, who included three Chinese, an American and a Belgian. The attack came as fears are mounting about terrorist threats a week after devastating attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, claimed by the Islamic State group.
Condemning the attack, US President Barack Obama said, “this barbarity only stiffens our resolve to meet this challenge of extremist violence”. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the terrorist attack suggesting that the violence was aimed at destroying peace efforts in the country
The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei also expressed condolences for the victims and their families, adding “China expresses indignation and strongly condemns this atrocity.”
At least 20 Indians were reported to be staying at the hotel when the attack took place. As per the reports, no Indian national suffered any harm in the incident. Meanwhile, an Indian-American, 41-year-old Anita Ashok Datar, was killed during a deadly siege of a Mali hotel by the terrorists. Anita Datar is the sole US citizen to have been killed in the attack yesterday, State Department Spokesman John Kirby told the press.
“We mourn American Anita Datar and all those lost in Mali Attacks,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a tweet on Friday adding “We extend condolences to family & friends and stand with the Malian people.”
In a statement released through the US State Department, Datar’s family said that they are devastated by the news. “We are devastated that Anita is gone it’s unbelievable to us that she has been killed in this senseless act of violence and terrorism,” the family said.
Mali has been torn apart by unrest since the north fell under the control of jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012. The Islamists were largely ousted by a France-led military operation launched the following year, but large swathes of Mali remain lawless and prone to attacks.
(With inputs from the PTI/Agencies)