170 people are being held hostage after gunmen attacked a five-star hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako on Friday, an eye witnesses has said.
The attackers numbering about 10, were heard shouting “Allahu Akbar”, opened fire outside the Radisson Blu Hotel in the centre of the capital before storming it.
Automatic weapon fire could be heard from outside the 190-room hotel where security forces set up a security cordon.
Business owner Garba Konate, who spoke to Al jazeera cable news from Bamako on phone, said a group of attackers showed up about three hours earlier.
“About 10 gunmen arrived early in the morning and shot all the guards in front of the Radisson,” Konate said.
One of the guests reportedly staying at the hotel is Nigerian Aliko Dangote – the richest person in Africa.
“I started hearing gunshots coming from the hotel,” said Ibrahim, 28, who works at a cultural centre 40 metres away from the hotel.
“Soon after I saw one of the guards running out, injured… The security guard told me the shooters were so quick that he doesn’t even know how many came in,” he told Al Jazeera.
The hotel’s owner said it “is aware of the hostage-taking that is ongoing at the property today… As per our information two persons have locked in 140 guests and 30 employees,” the company said in a statement.
The shooting follows a 24-hour siege and hostage-taking situation at another hotel in August in the central Malian town of Sevare.
However, Africa’s richest man, Mr. Aliko Dangote, who was said to be in the hotel, before thr attack, has refuted claims through his official hanfle handle, that he jas been taling hostage. According to Dangote, he was in Mali a day before and back Nigeria.