Mali: Reports gunmen free hostages who recited Quran

There is no immediate link between the hostage situation and the Paris attacks a week ago.

Malian security forces take position near the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on 20 November 2015 where a hostage situation is underway. Picture: AFP.

MALI/JOHANNESBURG - Gunmen have freed some hostages, including those able to recite verses of the Quran after taking more than a hundred people hostage at the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital Bamako, sources say.

There have been reports of gunfire and CNN is reporting that a UN official says two Malian nationals and a French national have died in the incident.

It's believed two armed men locked in 140 guests and 30 employees.

Video made by Chinese national, currently hostage in Bamako hotel, Mali pic.twitter.com/5Z6bK3kuda

Authorities, including the military, have sealed off streets around the hotel.

Security forces have set up a perimeter around the hotel.

Malian security forces take position near the Radisson Blu hotel in

Bamako on 20 November 2015 where is a hostage situation is in progress. Picture: AFP.

Guests at the hotel include a United Nations peacemaking team.

There is no immediate linkage with the terrorists attacks on Paris a week ago.

France intervened two years ago to rescue Northern Mali from al-Qaeda control after the organisation seized half the country, following a Tuareg insurrection.

TERRORISTS GO FROM FLOOR TO FLOOR

The terrorists have gone from floor to floor at the Radission Blu hotel used by high-profile foreign visitors in downtown Bamako. Two people able to recite versus from the Quran were allowed to leave.

Three people are understood to have died in exchanges of gunfire after the terrorist gain access to the hotel precincts using a motor car with diplomatic plates.

In 2013 France drove out al-Qaeda terrorists who has seized Northern Mali after a Tuareg insurrection.

Mali's been an armed camp since weapons poured across the border from Libya after the 2011 demise of Muammar Gadaffi.

US EMBASSY

Meanwhile, the US embassy is advising its citizens to stay indoors.

The US Embassy tweeted that it was "aware of an ongoing active shooter operation at the Radisson Hotel," and instructed its citizens to stay indoors.

This comes after several people were killed in a hostage siege in Sévaré, a town in the Mopti region of Mali, during August.

On 3 August, the US Embassy in Mali issued a security message to US citizens informing them of a heightened security risk to "westerners in southern Mali" including the area outside Bamako city.

US citizens were warned to take precautionary measures to ensure their safety.

"Ensure your personal communications devices are usable in a crisis, and fully employ any safety measures (locks, grills, alarms,) at your residence," the embassy warned in a statement.

An Islamist group claimed responsibility for the death of five people last March in an attack on a restaurant in Bamako popular with foreigners.

SECURITY MESSSAGE (1/4) The Embassy is aware of an ongoing active shooter operation at the Radisson Hotel.

SECURITY MESSAGE (2/4) The U.S. Embassy staff has been asked to shelter in place. All U.S. citizens should shelter in place.

SECURITY MESSAGE (3/4) Private U.S. citizens are encouraged to contact their families.

SECURITY MSG 4/4 Monitor local media for updates. US citizens should adhere to the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media

Note: Additional reporting by Reuters