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Gunmen raid Mali hotel, 7 Chinese among 170 hostages

A luxury hotel in central Bamako, the Malian capital was attacked on Friday morning by unidentified individuals, seizing 170 guests and staff, said the group that runs the hotel.

The Brussels-based Rezidor Hotel group that runs the Radisson Blu Hotel said the assailants had "locked in" 140 guests and 30 employees.

At least seven Chinese tourists are among the hostages.
Xinhua New Agency said it was in communication with a Chinese hostage, a tourist identified only by his surname Chen, at the hotel.

Malian army commander Modibo Nama Traore said 10 gunmen stormed the hotel Friday morning shouting "Allahu Akbar" or "God is great" in Arabic before firing on the guards and taking hostages.

Witnesses said at least two security officials were killed in front of the hotel which is the largest in Bamako with nearly 90 percent of its 190 rooms occupied.

Security forces have set up a security perimeter around the hotel where sporadic shootings could still be heard. Members of the UN's MINUSMA peacekeeping force in Mali were on the scene.

The United States and French embassies asked their citizens to take shelter where they are in Bamako.

Following a military coup in 2012, Islamic extremists took control of northern Mali, prompting a French-led military intervention in early 2013. The extremists were scattered from northern towns and cities, though the north remains insecure and militant attacks have extended south this year.




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