Al Qaeda-affiliated group claims responsibility for Mali attack

Al Qaeda-affiliated group claims responsibility for Mali attack

An African Jihadist group affiliated with Al Qaeda claimed responsibility on Friday for the attack and hostage-taking at a business hotel in the Malian capital Bamako.

Al-Mourabitoun, a group based in northern Mali and made up mostly of Tuaregs and Arabs, posted a message on Twitter saying it was behind the attack on the Radisson Blu hotel, where hostages are still being held.

Reports on CNN indicate that the situation had been managed with all hostages being evacuated.

Earlier reports stated that three people among them two Malian and a French international were killed during the attack.

The raid on the Radisson Blu hotel, located just west of the city centre in a neighbourhood that is home to government ministries and diplomats, has been linked to the Paris attack last week, though the reports cannot be confirmed.

Northern Mali was occupied by Islamist fighters, some with links to al Qaeda, for most of 2012. Although they were driven out by a French-led military operation, sporadic violence continues.

“Very early in the morning there was gunfire. Apparently it’s an attempt to take hostages. The police are there and are sealing off the area,” the security source said.

Witnesses in the area said police had surrounded the hotel and were blocking roads leading into the neighbourhood.

The U.S. Embassy tweeted that it was “aware of an ongoing active shooter operation at the Radisson Hotel,” and instructed its citizens to stay indoors.

An Islamist group claimed responsibility for the death of five people last March in an attack on a restaurant in Bamako popular with foreigners.