*Terrorists have struck the capital of Mali in West Africa.
Gun toting Islamic extremists tossing grenades stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako Friday morning, killing at least 10 people and initially taking 170 hostages.
A senior United Nations official said that as many as 27 people had been killed, with bodies found in the basement and on the second floor, according to a preliminary assessment of the attack.
Malian troops, backed by special forces from America and France, reacted quickly, storming the luxury hotel that had been hosting diplomats and others. Malian state TV reported that 80 people have been freed. By late Friday afternoon, no hostages were believed to remain in the building, though attackers still were inside, Malian army Col. Mamadou Coulibaly told reporters.
An extremist group that two years ago split from al-Qaida’s North Africa branch and led by Moktar Belmoktar claimed responsibility for the attack, in a recorded statement carried by Al-Jazeera. The group said it wanted fighters freed from Mali’s prisons and for attacks against northern Malians to stop.
The jihadist group, known as the Mourabitounes, was formed in 2013 after Belmoktar left al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and fused with a Malian militant group. The statement issued Friday said the Mourabitounes had attacked in coordination with the “Sahara Emirate” affiliated with al-Qaida.