WASHINGTON, Nov 20, 2015:
US special operations troops helped rescue at least six Americans from a luxury hotel in the Malian capital Bamako on Friday after suspected Islamist gunmen stormed the site, the US military said.
“A small group of US forces have helped move civilians to a secure location,” US Africa Command’s Colonel Mark Cheadle told reporters in Washington, adding that “at least six US citizens” had been rescued.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said about 25 US military personnel were in Bamako at the time of the incident, which comes exactly a week after the deadly jihadist rampage in Paris that left at least 130 dead.
The official declined to comment on whether additional US troops were being sent to the region.
Pentagon spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Baldanza said the US troops were from Special Operations Command Forward-North and they had been working with “West Africa personnel”.
According to the Radisson hotel chain, gunmen were holding 125 guests and 13 employees hostage.
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.