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Thirteen killed in Mali hotel hostage situation, UN workers rescued

By Doug G. Ware

SEVARE, Mali, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- At least 13 people are believed to be dead, including five United Nations workers, following a hostage situation at a hotel in Mali, authorities said Saturday.

The siege began Friday when officials say a group of Islamist gunmen retreated to the hotel after attacking a nearby military base. Once inside the hotel, the gunmen began shooting people and held a number of guests hostage.

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Four U.N. workers who were unharmed hid inside furniture for about 24 hours before their rescue Saturday, BBC News reported. Two of the workers are South African, one is from Russia and the other from Ukraine.

So far, no terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which was put to an end by Malian government troops Saturday. At least five troops died in the battle, officials said.

At least three militants were also killed, BBC's report said, and several others were arrested.

"MINUSMA remains determined and dedicated to fulfilling its tasks in the implementation of its mandate in support of Mali, its government and its people," the U.N. mission said in a statement Saturday.

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The militants attacked the Byblos Hotel, where U.N. peacekeepers typically stay, early Friday morning.

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."

Danielle Haynes contributed to this report

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