Mali declares State of Emergency

re posted from                            Presstv.com

Sat Nov 21, 2015 6:24AM
Officers evacuate the bodies of the victims of a hostage crisis from the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali, November 20, 2015. (Photo by AFP)
Officers evacuate the bodies of the victims of a hostage crisis from the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali, November 20, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

Mali has declared a state of emergency and three days of national mourning following a deadly hostage crisis that claimed the lives of more than 20 people, including foreign nationals.

The Malian government announced a 10-day nationwide state of emergency on Saturday, a day after armed men carried out a nine-hour siege at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in the capital, Bamako.

According to Malian security sources, 27 people from about the 170 taken hostage during the incident lost their lives in the standoff. The victims included one American, a Belgian, and three Chinese.

Turkish, Indian, and French nationals had reportedly been among those taken hostage.

At least three of the attackers were killed after Malian and international soldiers, including French and US forces present at the scene, intervened.

Earlier, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacer Keita had said 21 people were killed in the attacks, which have drawn widespread international condemnations, including from China and the United States.

The photo shows members of Malian special forces inside the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali, November 20, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

The al-Qaeda-affiliated Mali-based al-Mourabitoun group, led by Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, claimed responsibility for the attack and hostage-taking.

The United Nations (UN)’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon slammed the attack, saying the act of violence aimed to destroy peace efforts in Mali.

In August, a similar hostage-taking situation occurred at a hotel in the central town of Sevare, which led to the deaths of five UN workers and four Malian soldiers.

Mali has been witnessing violence linked to militant activity in its northern region since 2012. The area remains vulnerable to attacks despite a military operation led by France in 2013, which came after the UN Security Council passed a resolution on the deployment of a peacekeeping force known as the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

Back in June, Tuareg rebels, who have launched a number of uprisings since the 1960s, signed a peace deal with the Malian government aimed at ending years of unrest in the country.