Malian authorities hunt for hotel assailants
Malian authorities are hunting for the assailants in an attack that killed 19 hostages at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on Friday. A security source told AFP that authorities are “actively pursuing” at least three people.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita vowed in a televised speech that “terror will not win” and described the attackers as having “decided to break with humanity”.
“Nowhere in the world is one safe from these barbarians from another time,” Keita said.
Earlier reports indicated that more than 27 people had been killed, although the death toll now appears to be under 20.
The president declared a national 10-day state of emergency and a three-day mourning period, to begin on Monday.
The attack was claimed by al-Qaeda’s north-African affiliate al-Mourabitoun, led by the notorious one-eyed Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
In a nine-hour siege, assailants seized 170 hostages at a luxury hotel in the capital Bamako.
According to official statements, the victims included six Russians, three Chinese, two Belgians, an Israeli and a Senegalese national.
Keita thanked Malian and French security forces for their role in ending the siege. US forces were also involved in helping to free the hostages.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon also condemned Friday's "horrific terrorist attack," suggesting the violence was aimed at destroying peace efforts in the country.
US President Barack Obama and his Russian and Chinese counterparts Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping condemned the hotel siege.
"This barbarity only stiffens our resolve to meet this challenge," Obama said of the global terrorist threat.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Belmokhtar, one of the world's most wanted men, was indeed "likely" the brains behind the assault.
France has more than 1,000 troops in its former colony, a key battleground of the Barkhane counter-terror mission spanning five countries in Africa's restive Sahel region.
Mali has been torn apart by unrest since the north fell under the control of militant groups linked to al-Qaeda in 2012.
The militants were largely ousted by a French-led military operation launched the following year, but large swaths of Mali remain lawless.