Tuesday 6 December 2016

Massive manhunt in Mali as police hunt three suspects after hotel siege attack

Published 21/11/2015 | 10:11

Malian security forces are hunting "more than three" suspects after a brazen assault on a luxury hotel in the capital that killed 20 people plus two assailants, an army commander said.

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Malians awoke to a state of emergency after Friday's brazen attack in central Bamako that was claimed by an extremist group formed by notorious Algerian militant Moktar Belmoktar. The statement from the Al-Mourabitounes (The Sentinels) group was carried by Al-Jazeera and said the assault was carried out with al Qaida's "Sahara Emirate".

Mali troops, center rear, at the entrance to the Radisson Blu hotel with yellow Police tape around a pillar, right, after an attack by gunmen on the hotel in Bamako, Mali, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015
Mali troops, center rear, at the entrance to the Radisson Blu hotel with yellow Police tape around a pillar, right, after an attack by gunmen on the hotel in Bamako, Mali, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015

"The search has started and I can tell you that we are looking for more than three people at the moment," said Maj Modibo Nama Traore.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced the 10-day nationwide state of emergency beginning at midnight. He said a three-day period of national mourning was due to begin on Monday, with flags flying at half-mast.

People stand near the Radisson hotel in Bamako, Mali, November 20, 2015. REUTERS/Joe Penney
People stand near the Radisson hotel in Bamako, Mali, November 20, 2015. REUTERS/Joe Penney

Mr Keita had been attending a security summit in Chad on Friday but returned to Mali and convened an emergency cabinet meeting.

Northern Mali has been unstable since it fell to Tuareg separatists and Islamic extremists following a military coup in 2012. Despite a French-led military intervention in 2013 that drove the extremists from cities and towns, attacks have continued and extended farther south this year, including an assault on a Bamako restaurant popular with foreigners in March.

Even before the attack ended on Friday, some officials said it highlighted the need for tighter security measures and stricter surveillance.

"Today we have an emergency. These terrorists are a global threat that we need to attack globally," said politician Amadou Thiam, a vice president of Mali's parliament. "Our government needs to introduce stricter identification and information systems so that we can track everybody."

The heavily armed assailants on Friday seized dozens of hostages at the hotel popular with foreigners, sparking a more than seven-hour siege by Malian troops backed by US and French special forces.

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