Following a deadly assault on a hotel, Mali's president has announced a 10-day state of emergency. The West African nation's leader also said 21 people died in the assault, and declared three days of national mourning.
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced on Friday that the attack on the Radisson Blu resort hotel in the capital Bamako left 21 dead, including the two Islamist militants killed in a firefight with Malian commandos and international forces.
"Tonight, the death toll is heavy," said Keita in a televised statement.
He also declared a 10-day state of emergency and three days of national mourning in the wake of the attack claimed by the militant group al-Mourabitoun.
A UN official earlier said the death toll had reached 27 people after preliminary count of the bodies.
The attack began at 0700 UTC when militants entered the luxurious tourist destination, taking more than 150 guests hostage.
"At first I thought it was a carjacking. Then they killed two guards in front of me and shot another man in the stomach and wounded him, and I knew it was something more," said Malian legal expert Modi Coulibaly, who witnessed the attack begin, Reuters news agency reported.
After nine hours, the attack came to a close after Malian security forces killed two militants and freed the remaining hostages.
Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande said the assault illustrated the need for France to "once again" show its solidarity with the West African country, though he stopped short of linking the tragedy with attacks in Paris claimed by the "Islamic State" militant group.
"Once again, terrorists want to make their barbaric presence felt everywhere, where they can kill, where they can massacre. So we should once again show our solidarity with our ally, Mali," Hollande said in a statement.
France has stationed around 3,000 troops in Africa's Sahel region following a military intervention in Mali's desert north, where a 2012 Tuareg rebellion was hijacked by militants linked to al-Qaeda.
Operation Barkhane spans five countries, and primarily consists of counterterrorism maneuvers against al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Mourabitoun and Ansar Dine.
ls/bw (Reuters, AFP, AP)