U.S. Military Personnel Help Rescue Hostages From Hotel In Mali



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American military personnel helped rescue some Americans and others in Mali after the hotel where they were staying was overrun by gunmen.

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More than 20 people were killed, including one American and two of the attackers. The State Department and the Pentagon announced that all U.S. government personnel in Bamako were accounted for. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: The Radisson Blu is a popular hotel for Westerners working with international organizations. Some of the Americans who were there were on temporary assignment to the U.S. Embassy or with the U.N. mission. State Department spokesman John Kirby says about a dozen Americans were safely evacuated, including some U.S. Embassy personnel.

JOHN KIRBY: I can confirm that all the chief-of-mission personnel who were at the hotel at the time of the attack are accounted for and are in a safe location.

KELEMEN: The State Department offered condolences but no details about the American who was killed in the attack. U.N. officials say three of their staffers were also evacuated. And U.N. peacekeepers played a role in securing the area around the hotel, according to spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

STEPHANE DUJARRIC: We sent a quick reaction force from the U.N. police unit to help secure the perimeter. And we've also assisting with medical facilities and forensic experts to support the Malian-government-led operation.

KELEMEN: U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he's concerned that the attacks took place at a critical juncture in a peace process for Mali, and his statement deplores any attempt to derail those talks. At a Security Council meeting on U.N. peacekeeping, many diplomats express outrage over the attacks in Bamako. The U.S. representative, David Pressman, says the U.S. stands with Mali and, in his words, will not flinch in the face of terrorism.


DAVID PRESSMAN: It does not scare us. It will not deter us. It only unites us.

KELEMEN: In a statement, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, called for continued U.S. support for Mali, warning that governments in West Africa are outgunned by Islamist terrorists. An al-Qaida-linked group has claimed responsibility for the attack in Mali. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.