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United Nations MINUSMA personnel in military parade, France (Image by Marie-Lan Nguyen)

Mali hotel siege ends with 12 dead

Malian special-unit security forces have stormed a hotel early on Saturday freeing four hostages and killing four of the gunman who seized control of the hotel on Friday.

Among the 12 dead are at least 3 hostages.

Byblos Hotel in the town of Sevare in central Mali is frequently used by United Nations staff. Authorities have not yet released the nationalities of the dead. But a press release by the UN confirms the death of one member of its international personnel.

A spokeswoman for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has also confirmed that the surviving hostages are four UN contractors from South Africa, Russia and Ukraine.

She also claimed the four contractors had been hiding in the building, rather than having been held hostage.

Three or four bodies have reportedly been found in the hotel.

The gunmen entered the town on motorbikes on Friday heading straight towards the hotel. Seven people have been arrested in relation to the attack, according to a government statement.

A local resident told the BBC that this “is the first time [such an attack] has happened in Sevare”.

MINUSMA have condemned the attack and announced that they will increase airport security in Sevare.

The Northern Mali Conflict (Image by Orionist)

The Northern Mali Conflict (Image by Orionist)

The UN MINUSMA mission began in 2013 following the French invasion which was designed to establish a peace deal between the Malian government and Tuareg separatists. Islamist groups, excluded from the negotiations, have responded by frequently targeting UN personnel and government agencies.

 

Elisabeth Brahier

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