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Deaths, hostage reported in Mali hotel attack

“We have never seen anything like this is Sevare," one resident said.

By
Danielle Haynes

SEVARE, Mali, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Gunmen stormed a hotel in Mali, killing multiple people and taking at least one foreign hostage Friday, defense officials said.

It's unclear how many dead and injured there are in the central Mali town of Sevare.

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"At this stage we can confirm there are dead and wounded on all sides, and hostages," Lt. Col. Diarran Kone told the BBC.

Suspected Islamist militants attacked the Byblos Hotel, where U.N. peacekeepers have been staying, early in the morning. Malian troops surrounded the building and exchanged gunfire with the attackers, The Washington Post reported. U.N. spokesman Radhia Achouri would not tell the BBC whether any U.N. personnel were caught up in the attack.

Also staying at the hotel were French, South African and Ukrainian guests.

Al-Qaida-linked militants have been fighting Malian troops in the north of the country for a number of years now, but one resident, Bah Napo, whose brother owns a hotel in the town, said "we have never seen anything like this is Sevare."

"In 2012, the jihadists from the north were stopped at Konna, about [3 miles] from here. So we only saw the war on television. Now that it has come to Sevare we are all traumatized," Napo said.

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