At least 12 killed as Mali hotel siege finally ends

Twelve people including a South African and another foreigner were killed in a hostage siege at a hotel in central Mali that ended early today when government troops stormed the building, the army said.

AFP| Last Updated: Aug 09, 2015, 00:09 AM IST

Bamako: Twelve people including a South African and another foreigner were killed in a hostage siege at a hotel in central Mali that ended early today when government troops stormed the building, the army said.

"There are 12 dead in all," an army officer told AFP after the operation at the Hotel Byblos in Sevare, listing the fatalities as five "terrorists", five soldiers and two "white people".

The body of one of the foreign victims had lain in front of the hotel since Friday when the gunmen stormed the building, the officer said.

South Africa's foreign ministry said a 38-year-old man from Pretoria was killed in the siege while two other South Africans were safe.

Local media identified the man as Roelof Janse van Rensburg. A foreign ministry spokesman said he was working for an aviation company hired by the United Nations contingent in Mali.

A source told AFP that "a number of hostages" had been freed from the hotel, including five foreigners, although their nationalities were not specified.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack which "led to the death of at least one UN contractor," his spokesman said in a statement.

"This attack will not lessen the determination of the United Nations to accompany the Malian people in their efforts to implement the peace agreement," the statement said, referring to the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA.

Located a few kilometres from the regional capital Mopti, Sevare is a key staging post on the road to Mali's desert north which fell to Islamic extremists in 2012.

Sources said three South Africans, a Frenchman and a Ukrainian had been registered at the hotel at the time of the attack. A Russian diplomat said a Russian was among the hostages. (AFP)