Officials in Mali ended a 24-hour hostage situation at the Byblos Hotel in Sevare, which left 12 people dead over the weekend. Suspected radical Islamists attacked the hotel on Friday.
United Nations staff frequently uses the hotel. One officer told AFP the fatalities include “five ‘terrorists, five soldiers and ‘two white people.’” The UN explained that “two Ukrainians, a Nepalese and a South African” were among the dead along with “a Malian driver working for a company contracted by the mission.” Two South Africans, one Russian, and one Ukrainian survived the siege. The UN said their contractors remained safe throughout the whole time.
“The Minusma contractors were never held hostage,” said one UN spokeswoman, adding:
The whole time they were inside the hotel, the gunmen did not know of their presence. They were hiding and we managed to keep in contact with them. The gunmen had retreated to the hotel after attacking the Malian army facility which is only 20 metres from the hotel.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack.
“This attack will not lessen the determination of the United Nations to accompany the Malian people in their efforts to implement the peace agreement,” he declared.
The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) formed in 2013 to stabilize and secure the nation after France launched a military intervention “to stop an uprising of various militant groups in the north.” These terrorists captured towns in the northern territories of the country and attacked buildings in a similar fashion. The nomadic Tuaregs started a rebellion in 2012 to seek independence from Mali’s government. The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) took charge of the rebellion, which led to the downfall of President Amadou Toumani Touré because Malians were frustrated with his handling of the rebellion. However, MNLA teamed up with Islamic group Ansar Dine, but once the Malian military left, the radical Islamists implemented Sharia Law. MNLA did not approve, which led to infighting.
However, one resident said fighting is extremely rare in Sevare.
“Since the beginning of the fighting in Mali, we haven’t experienced such a situation in Sevare,” he told the BBC. “We would expect these things to happen in Gao or Timbuktu, but this the first time it has happened in Sevare.”
Sevare is 354 miles southwest of Gao and 388 miles southwest of Timbuktu.