LATEST: AGENCY REPORTS: THREE SHOT DEAD - 2 MALIANS AND ONE FRENCH CITIZEN, SOME HOSTAGES RELEASED.
Gunmen have taken at least 170 people hostage at the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital Bamako, a hotel spokesman told NBC News early Friday.
"They have locked in about 140 guests and about 30 employees," a spokesperson for the Carlson Rezidor group, which owns Radisson, told NBC News. "So the hotel is locked down and there is no possibility to go out or come in."
"It's all happening on the seventh floor, jihadists are firing in the corridor," a security source told AFP.
Witnesses told FRANCE 24's Daniel that the attackers arrived at the hotel in a car with diplomatic license plates.
The US Embassy in Bamako issued a statement on Twitter stating that it was aware of an, “ongoing active shooter operation at the Radisson Hotel”. Another message said, “The U.S. Embassy staff has been asked to shelter in place. All U.S. citizens should shelter in place.”
Turkish airlines confirm through Reuters, they have 6 staff being held hostage, and an unknown number of 'French citizens' also being held says the French Embassy in Mali. A security source told Reuters that gunmen attacked the hotel.
"As per our information the persons who have entered the building and have initiated the hostage-taking have locked the property, so it is not locked by police or other forces," the spokesperson added.
The U.S. Embassy in Mali said it was aware of an "ongoing active-shooter operation at the Radisson Hotel."
"The U.S. Embassy staff has been asked to shelter in place," it said.
"All U.S. citizens should shelter in place. Private U.S. citizens are encouraged to contact their family. Monitor local media for updates. U.S. citizens should adhere to the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media."
In August, the Embassy issued a security message informing U.S. citizens "of a heightened security risk to westerners in southern Mali, including the area outside Bamako city."
Meanwhile, a Chinese guest surnamed Chen, told China's state-run Xinhua news agency via the WeChat mobile app that he was among a number of Chinese guests trapped in the hotel.
SOURCES: NBC NEWS, REUTERS, AFP, AP ,FRANCE24 & CNS
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