WASHINGTON D.C. —
Malian soldiers and coalition forces were late Friday attempting to secure a luxury hotel in the capital several hours after it was attacked by Islamist militants.
There are reports at least 22 bodies have been found at the Radisson Blu in Bamako, with United Nations officials warning the death toll could go higher.
Explosions and gunfire could still be heard coming from the hotel as Malian special forces went through the building floor by floor, searching for possible holdout gunmen.
Some of the 170 hostages, who were seized by suspected Islamic militants at the luxury hotel earlier Friday, were rescued when troops drawn from Mali, United States, France and the United Nations, stormed the hotel frequented mostly by foreigners.
The militants, said to be linked to the terrorist group, Al-Qaeda, raided the hotel using a vehicle with diplomatic numbers.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Senegal, Trudy Stevenson, who is also in charge of Mali, said the situation was worrying.
Denzel Dube, an accountant with Radisson Blu Hotels, told VOA Studio 7 that workers are devastated about the hotel attack.
U.S. President Barack Obama, who is attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Malaysia said, “We are monitoring the situation” when asked about the situation.
French President Francois Hollande in his televised address about the situation in Mali said, “The assault occurred and we will do what has to be done with our forces on the ground to free those hostages.
“Once again, terrorists want to mark their barbarous presence on every location where they can kill, impress and murder. So we need once again to be firm and show our solidarity toward our friend, the country of Mali. Especially in this hotel in Bamako, there are tourists and business people of different nationalities, because the country (Mali) needs their support to rebuild and develop.”