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Air France staff caught up in Mali hostage drama

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Air France staff caught up in Mali hostage drama
Security forces have surrounded the hotel in Bamako. Photo: AFP
12:54 CET+01:00
Twelve flight staff from Air France have been rescued safely from a hotel in Mali, where gunmen are currently holding a reported 170 hostages. Paris has sent an elite French unit to Bamako.
Armed men on Friday took 170 people hostage at the Radisson Blu Hotel in the centre of Mali's capital, Bamako.
 
Twelve Air France staff were caught up in the drama and were apparently in the hotel at the time the gunmen stormed the building.
 
For a while their fate was uncertain but the airline has confirmed they have been safely rescued from the hotel. 

It remains unclear if the team, which was made up of two pilots and ten from the cabin crew, were actually taken hostage by the attackers or were in another part of the hotel.
Hostages who could recite from the Koran have been released, a security source told Reuters. 
 
The Malian security ministry has said that at least three hostages have already been killed, reported French newspaper Le Monde.
 
Le Point was reporting that one of those killed was French, but this has not been confirmed.
 
It remains unknown if other French people are inside the hotel at this point and how many.
 
Air France said that all flights to and from Bamako have been cancelled for Friday.
 
Paris has sent a team of elite commandos from the GIGN to Bamako.
 
Around 40 paramilitary police from the GIGN unit were on their way to assist Malian security forces dealing with a hostage situation at the Radisson Blu hotel, said a ministry spokesman.
   
The Twitter account of the paramilitary police posted a black-and-white image of the heavily-armed, black-clad troops upon their departure.
 
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