BAMAKO – A famous Guinean singer who was among 170 people taken hostage on Friday by Islamist gunmen in the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako, said he heard attackers in the next room speaking English.

“I heard them say in English ‘Did you load it?’, ‘Let’s go’,” singer Sékouba ‘Bambino’ Diabate, who was freed by Malian security forces, told Reuters in Conakry.

“I wasn’t able to see them because in these kinds of situations it’s hard.”

Around 80 of 170 hostages seized when gunmen went on a shooting rampage at a luxury hotel in Mali’s capital on Friday have been freed, reports AFP.

“Radisson hotel attack: special forces launched an operation, first hostages released, about 80,” the state-run ORTM channel said on a scrolling banner, without specifying the source of the information.

“Our special forces have freed hostages and 30 others were able to escape on their own,” Security Minister Salif Traore told AFP.

Malian security forces escort a hostage freed from the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako. AFP PHOTO / HABIBOU KOUYATE
Meanwhile, An elite French unit of paramilitary police specialised in hostage situations left for Mali on Friday.

around 40 paramilitary police from the GIGN unit were on their way to assist Malian security forces dealing with a hostage situation at the Radisson Blu hotel, said a ministry spokesman.

The Twitter account of the paramilitary police posted a black-and-white image of the heavily-armed, black-clad troops upon their departure.

reuters

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