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US special forces assist in Mali hotel hostage recovery

20 November 2015, 18:31

Washington - US special forces were helping in the effort to rescue hostages after gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in the Malian capital on Friday, a Pentagon spokeswoman said.

The State Department said American citizens could be among the hostages in the siege, which comes exactly a week after the deadly jihadist rampage in Paris.

"Special Operations Command Forward-North and West Africa personnel are currently assisting hostage recovery efforts at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako," Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Baldanza said.

"US forces have helped move civilians to secured locations, as Malian forces clear the hotel of hostile gunmen."

Gunmen were holding 125 guests and 13 employees hostage, according to the Radisson hotel chain.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said: "We are aware US citizens might be present at the hotel. The US embassy in Bamako is working to verify this information."

The gunmen are believed to have entered the 190-room hotel around 0700 GMT in a car with diplomatic plates before seizing guests and staff in a suspected Islamist hostage-taking that has left at least three people dead.

Witnesses described "around a dozen" armed assailants, while security sources spoke of two or three "jihadist" attackers.

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