Second group claims responsibility for Mali hotel attack
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A second jihadist group on Sunday claimed responsibility in the attack on a luxury Bamako hotel that left 19 people dead as Mali prepared for three days of national mourning.
Gunmen attacked the Radisson Blu hotel in the Malian capital on Friday morning, killing as many as 14 foreigners and taking 170 guests and staff hostage.
The al Qaeda-linked group Al Murabitoun claimed responsibility, saying two men carried out the bloody attack and suggesting they were both Malian.
The group is led by notorious one-eyed Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar. France said it was “likely” he had orchestrated the siege in Bamako.
However, a different jihadist group from central Mali – the Macina Liberation Front – also claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming it was carried out by a five-man team, including “three who came out safe and sound”, according to a statement sent to the AFP.
There was confusion about the nationality of the gunmen involved in the attack.
Security sources said they suspected “two foreigners” were behind the attack on the hotel frequented by businessmen, diplomats and expatriates.
Guinean singer Sekouba Bambino Diabate, who was among the survivors, told AFP the gunmen spoke English amongst themselves.
Monday marked the start of three days of national mourning for the victims of the attack, with neighbouring Senegal, Mauritania and Guinea joining in a show of solidarity.
Six Russians, three Chinese, two Belgians, an American, an Israeli, a Senegalese and a member of the Malian special forces were among those killed in the attack.
The UN peacekeeping force in Mali, MINUSMA, however spoke of 22 fatalities, including two attackers.
Senegal's President Macky Sall visited Bamako Sunday to show national solidarity and the support of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, which he chairs.
"Mali will never be alone in this fight, we are all committed because we are all involved," he said, announcing that Mali's neighbours Senegal, Mauritania and Guinea would also observe three days of mourning.
Despite the state of emergency imposed since late Friday, residents of Bamako were trying to return to normal life.
Security remained high at the major hotels. It was more discreet, though tighter than usual, at public buildings and banks.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
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