Mali declares nationwide state of emergency after hotel siege

The Malian government declared a 10-day nationwide state of emergency Friday evening, following an assault at a luxury hotel in the capital Bamako.

170 people were trapped after gun-toting militants stormed the Radisson Blu hotel, many of them foreigners.

Malian commandos staged a dramatic floor-by-floor rescue, ending the siege after about nine hours.

Reports say at least 22 people died in the operation, including three Chinese, an American and a Belgian.

Some hostages escaped by their own means while the majority of them were rescued by the special forces.

Two of the attackers also died.

A jihadist group, Al Mourabitoun, based in Mali’s desert north, claimed responsibility for the assault.

It said it worked with an al-Qaida affiliate in the region, and wanted fighters freed from Mali’s prisons.

Mali has been battling Islamist rebels for years.

A French-led military operation drove the militants from the north of the country in 2013.

But northern Mali remains insecure and extremist attacks have extended farther south this year, including Bamako.

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