|20 Indians, all cousins, escape terror strike in Mali hotel|
Twenty Indians, all cousins, were rescued unharmed from a luxury hotel in the capital of the West African country of Mali, where armed men tried to take hostages 170 people on Friday, a week after the terrorist rampage paralyzing in Paris.
For Bulani family, originally from Ajmer in Rajasthan, it was a few hours of uncertainty and anxiety they heard constant gunfire Raddison Blu Hotel in Bamako, capital of Mali, which claimed the life least three. But there were conflicting reports on the death toll.
"We are all safe now. We are in the third floor of the hotel in Block B. We stay in apartments that are part of the hotel", Mukesh among Indians to safety after a long operation by the forces Malian security and US military team told HT over the phone.
He said he could hear "shots creeping and guests in the hotel who were attacked, shouting aloud. "He said the attack began around June 45 am that four armed men arrived in a car with diplomatic license plates began to spray bullets into the air before entering the hotel lobby.
"All topped 25 around 4 pm local time," he added.
Northern Mali was occupied by Islamist fighters, some with links to al Qaeda for most of 2012 and they were removed by a military operation led by France. That did not stop the occasional violence in the central belt of Mali on the southern edge of the Sahara and in Bamako, where more than 500 Indians remain. The city has a population of 2 million people.
Dev Bulani and cousins whose Mukhesh are distributors of LG and TVS Motors in the country. Dev stayed in Mali for 15 years. "They are all still on the third floor of the hotel on the block B, and the attack happened on the block A," Kapil Bulani brother Dev, told this newspaper by telephone from Dubai. He said he came to know about the attack June 50 am local time in Mali, which got through the middle of the day. India is at 5:30 Mali.
"They kept their composure and were brought to safety. There were no women or children in the group," he said, adding that these are the hours of anguish. The hotel is popular with foreigners and the guests were nationals of France, Turkey and Algeria. The victims included two Malian nations and a French citizen, although authorities have not yet identified the group behind the attacks.
It is obvious that the group was trying to take a large number of people hostage for 190 hotel rooms. The attackers went to seven-storey building, room by room and floor by floor, Reuters reported citing a senior security source and a witness.