We must listen to witnesses on the ground who are seeing abuse, duplicity, and the dereliction of duty firsthand. Our lives depend on their voices being heard. The op-ed by Sean Thomas, International Director of Investigations at Animal Equality.
Mali hotel attack: 170 taken hostage
On 20 November, an armed group stormed Radisson hotel in Mali’s capital. Tens of people were killed.
Correction: 20 November, 17:00
According to French newspaper Libération, the raid has ended. The news agency AFP reports 27 bodies found at the hotel. All hostages have been freed.
At least 170 people have been taken hostage in the morning of Friday 20 November at Radisson hotel in Bamaco, Mali’s capital. According to international media, the hotel have been stormed by a group of Jihadists arrived on board a vehicle with diplomatic plaque. The TV channel France24 – reporting for the Malian Security Ministry – told that French and US special forces allowed releasing 80 people. In the siege, at least 3 people were killed.
Islamic fundamentalist group Morabitun, affiliated with Al Qaeda, has claimed responsibility of the attack. Terrorists would have entered the hotel shouting “Allah Akbar” (“Allah is the greatest”), but some witnesses told they heard attackers speak English. Moreover, it has been reported that some of the hostages had been freed after being made to recite verses from the Koran.
— Hannane Ferdjani (@HFerdjani) 20 Novembre 2015
The choice of the target is clear: the hotel is located in an area popular to foreigners, particularly airline members. During the attack, 7 Chinese people, 4 Belgians, 2 Germans, 7 Algerians, 6 Americans, 20 Indians, and 7 Turks were at the hotel. Some of the 190 hotel rooms were occupied by 12 Air France employees, which have been rescued. Similarly, 5 Turkish Airlines crew members have been evacuated. Shortly after 3 p.m., a journalist on site reported that Western military forces’ raid, assisted by Malian police forces, is still continuing.
Mali has been undergoing an internal complex situation for years. In January 2012, the Tuareg rebellion led by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) caused the destitution of the President Amadou Toumani Tourè. Rebels managed to occupy a vast area in the north of the country. A year after hostilities, France decided to intervene militarily, though the Operation Serval. Six months later, in July 2013, the United Nations blue helmets took the control, by launching the MINUSIMA Operation. That allowed holding elections, but the situation seems to be still far away from peace.
Cover photo: ©Moussa Kondo via Twitter
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