Mali hotel siege on, all 20 Indian hostages rescued

Bamako: Twenty Indians held hostage on Friday along with more than 100 others by Islamist gunmen at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako have been rescued, foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

Islamic extremists armed with guns and throwing grenades stormed the hotel, killing at least three people and taking numerous hostages, authorities said.

The Indian nationals are employees of a Dubai-based company and were staying in the hotel permanently.

Malian troops, backed by special forces from America and France, reacted quickly. As people ran for their lives near the luxury hotel along a dirt road, the soldiers in full combat gear pointed the way to safety. Within hours, local TV images showed heavily armed troops in what appeared to be a lobby area. Malian state TV reported that 80 people in the hotel when the assault began have been freed.

Malian special forces were freeing hostages “floor by floor,” Malian army commander Modibo Nama Traore told The Associated Press. Still, Rezidor Hotel, the Brussels-based group that operates the hotel, said hours after the assault began that 125 guests and 13 employees were still in the hotel.

US special forces troops were assisting Malian forces in hostage rescue efforts, said Col. Mark Cheadle of the US Army’s Africa Command. President Barack Obama said he was monitoring the situation.

France’s national gendarme service said about 40 French special police forces were playing a support role at the hotel.

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