UN Confirms 29 People Killed in Mali Siege, Including 2 Attackers
21:38 20.11.2015(updated 23:31 20.11.2015)
The death toll from the Mali hotel hostage situation has risen to 29, including two militants, according to the United Nations.
A UN official, speaking on condition of anonymity to the Associated Press, stressed that the operation is still ongoing, but that so far 27 bodies have been found in the building.
UN Mali spokesman Olivier Salgado also confirmed that two extremists were killed during the rescue attempt.
'They came to kill, not to take hostages,' Salgado said of the gunmen, according to ABC News.
According to the US State Department, the head of America's diplomatic mission was at the hotel at the time of the attack, but was rescued. The State Department also stressed that there was no active US military involvement in ending the hostage situation.
Security forces are still moving from room to room, searching for additional casualties.
Militants took roughly 170 people hostage after storming the Radisson Blu Hotel in the capital of Bamako earlier on Friday.
Earlier reports indicated that five security officers were injured during anti-terror operations.
According to local media, an affiliate of the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for the incident.
A popular tourist destination, officials say that citizens from 14 countries were present at the Radisson Blu when it was attacked. These include foreign nationals from Algeria, Belgium, Germany, India, Spain, Canada, China, Cote d'Ivoire, Morocco, Russia, Senegal, the US, and Turkey. Fourteen of the hostages taken were French.
A former French colony, the French government has launched airstrikes and sent ground troops into Mali within the last two years ago to counter terror groups linked with al Qaeda.
'Our highest concern is the safety of all our guests and employees in the hotel,' the hotel said in a statement. 'We are in constant contact with the authorities there and will share further information with you when we have it.'
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