20 Indians Evacuated from Mali Hotel Amid Attack

BenarNews Staff

151120-IN-indiamali-620 Malian troops take position outside the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako after gunmen linked to al-Qaeda went on a shooting rampage at the luxury hotel, Nov. 20, 2015.

Twenty Indian nationals who were among more than 170 guests and staff inside the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako, were evacuated safely after Islamic militants launched an attack Friday, India’s foreign affairs ministry said.

“Good news! All 20 Indians in the hotel in Bamako have been safely evacuated. Our Ambassador in Mali has confirmed,” Vikas Swarup, spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs, said in a message posted on Twitter almost five hours after news broke of an attack launched on the luxury hotel.

The Indians are staffers of a Dubai-based wholesale firm and were “not among the hostages” held by the gunmen, a senior member of their company said.

“All of the 20 Indians work for our company and live in apartments situated in Block B of the hotel. The gunmen had attacked Block A,” Sunil Tolani, a senior employee of Tcsons Trading company, told BenarNews by phone from Dubai.

Tolani said his boss, Dev Bulani, who owns the company, was in constant contact with the Indian staffers, who assured him that the attackers had not confronted them.

According to reports, at least 10 gunmen shouted Islamist slogans as they stormed the hotel and attacked guests and staff. More than seven hours after the attack began, Malian commandos raided the hotel and rescued most of the hostages, but the bodies of 27 people were found inside, Reuters quoted a U.N. official as saying.

An al-Qaeda-allied group called al-Mourabitoun, which is based in northern Mali and made up mostly of Tuaregs and Arabs, posted a message on Twitter claiming responsibility for the attack, the news agency reported.

The attack in the former French colony in West Africa came a week after gunmen and suicide bombers launched coordinated shootings and bombings in Paris that killed 130 people. The Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for that attack.

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