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Mali hotel hostage crisis ends with 13 dead

 
 
 
 
 
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Malian armed forces have put an end to a hostage-taking drama at a hotel in the center of the country that left 13 people dead.

The military operation at the Hotel Byblos in the town of Sevare “has ended and the hotel has been cleared,” a military source said on Saturday of the standoff that started a day earlier.

Lt. Col. Diarran Kone, Mali’s Defense Ministry adviser, said that four hostages had been freed from the hotel after the standoff.

Earlier, Officials said five Malian soldiers, two attackers, and a UN contractor had died in the confrontation. Kone said five additional bodies were also found in the hotel, including four staff and one attacker.

Several foreigners have been kidnapped by militants in Mali in recent years.

The country plunged into turmoil after President Amadou Toumani Toure was overthrown in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they staged the coup d’état in response to the government’s inability to contain a rebellion in northern Mali.

Extremist attacks have long been concentrated in the north, but began spreading at the beginning of the year to the center of the country and, in June, to the south, near the borders with Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.

In January 2013, French soldiers were deployed to Mali under the pretext of putting an end to the crisis in the West African country, a former colony of France.

Violence rages on across the West African country despite the presence of an 11,000-strong UN peacekeeping force, which has been stationed in the country since July 2013, as well as 1,000 French forces.

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