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Mali searches for suspects after hotel attack

Investigators in Mali are hunting more than three people suspected of links to a terrorist siege at a luxury hotel in the capital that left at least 19 people dead. The government has declared a state of emergency.

Malian security forces were working to track down "more than three" suspects after a bloody assault on a luxury hotel in the capital Bamako, an army commander said on Saturday.

The extremist Al-Mourabitoun group, an al Qaeda affiliate, claimed responsibility for the attack in downtown Bamako in an audio recording broadcast by Al-Jazeera television.

Gunmen started their assault on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on Friday morning, shooting in the corridors and taking 170 guests and staff hostage, many of them foreigners.

Watch video 01:41

Keita declares state of emergency

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacer Keita said the assault left 19 people dead as well as the two attackers. The siege lasted for more than seven hours and ended when Malian and international troops stormed the hotel.

The foreign victims included Russian, Chinese, Belgian, an American and a Senegalese nationals.

Keita announced a 10-day nationwide state of emergency beginning Friday at midnight.

Northern Mali has been unstable since it fell to Islamic extremists and Tuareg rebels following a military coup in 2012. A French-led military intervention in 2013 drove the extremists from the main cities. However, the attacks continued and extended farther south this year, including an assault on a popular restaurant in the country's capital.

The bloody hostage-taking in Bamako came a week after 130 people died in the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris claimed by the "Islamic State" (IS) militants.

das/sms (AFP, AP)

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