The hostage siege at the luxury hotel in Mali’s capital left at least 18 people dead on Friday and was declared “over” after several hours.

People flee from the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali; Still image from video show a hostage rushed out from the hotel; security forces crouch down outside the hotel; The lobby of the hotel with a body bundled under a blanket near the staircase

AP, Reuters, Mali TV
After several hours of nerve-wracking suspense at the headquarters of the Ministry of External Affairs (MeA) here, there were sighs of relief in the evening, when the Indian ambassador in Mali confirmed that the 20 Indians being held hostage, along with more than 100 others by gunmen at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel, are free and safe. Malian special forces stormed the hotel at the capital Bamako after the gunmen took 170 people as hostage. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Indians trapped at the hotel have been rescued and are safe. He said that Indian ambassador in Mali had confirmed the news.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The hostage siege at the luxury hotel in Mali’s capital left at least 18 people dead on Friday and was declared “over” after several hours. The Ministry spokesperson said the Indian ambassador was in touch with the nationals. Reports reaching here said a joint team of UN, Mali and French soldiers evacuated all Indians from the hotel under siege. The Ministry sources here said the Indians were employees of a Dubai-based wholesale company, which belongs to a Sindhi businessman, Dev Bulani. They had permanent rooms booked at the hotel. Bulani, who was in Dubai, said the workers were held in a house inside the hotel complex. “He told us that he is in touch with the hostages and they are being looked after by the rescue forces,”officials said. Bulani, a resident of Bamako, has a network of business with offices in West Asian countries including Dubai. “He is a major manpower supplier and also a known wholesaler,” said the diplomat. Ministry officials here said the Malian authorities were still ascertaining the identity of the hostage-takers, who came in shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’. “Our ambassador is also in Mali and he is personally supervising the situation,” said a Mali embassy spokesman in New Delhi. Northern Mali fell under the control of Islamist militants in 2012. A French-led offensive ousted them in 2013, but remnants of the group have staged a number of attacks on United Nations peacekeepers and Malian forces. Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was here last month to attend the India-Africa Forum Summit, had invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit his country and told him that he would personally take him to Timbuktu, which he said was a heritage site that faced the threat of being destroyed by extremist groups. Stating that his country was badly affected by terrorism, he also sought India’s cooperation in counter-terrorist measures.

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Sighs of relief as Indian hostages safe and free