Mali hotel attack: Three days of national mourning begin

BY: bbc.com

Mali has begun three days of national mourning following Friday's militant Islamist attack on a hotel in the capital, Bamako, in which at least 19 people were killed.

Malian and international troops stormed the Radisson Blu hotel to free guests and staff being held hostage. Two gunmen were killed.

 

Three different Islamist groups have said they carried out the attack.

Investigators have yet to determine the number and nationality of the gunmen.

However, one security source in Mali told the BBC that officials believed that the two dead gunmen had been speaking English during the attack.

A source has told the AFP new agency they were not Malians.

 Ahead of the three days of national mourning, the chairman of the West African regional bloc Ecowas, Senegal's President Macky Sall, visited Bamako to show support.

He said on Sunday: "Mali will never be alone in this fight, we are all committed because we are all involved."

Senegal, Mauritania and Guinea are also observing the mourning.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its affiliate, al-Murabitoun, have both said they were responsible for the attack. A spokesman told al-Jazeera two Malian gunmen had carried out the attack.

Now, the Macina Liberation Front (MLF) which has been blamed for attacks in southern Mali, has said its fighters carried it out.

Security remains tight around major hotels in Bamako

Gunmen entered the hotel on Friday morning, shooting and driving their vehicle through a security barrier, one eyewitness said.

Most of the hotel guests and staff were freed hours later when Malian special forces, French special forces and off-duty US servicemen stormed the hotel to end the siege.