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American among 27 dead after terrorists storm Mali hotel

An American was among at least 27 people killed in Mali’s capital Friday after grenade-hurling Al Qaeda gunmen stormed a posh hotel — taking scores of hostages and setting in motion a bloody standoff.

Several hostages were able to save themselves from slaughter by reciting parts of the Koran. They were freed just before the fiends mounted a last stand at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako.

Before darkness fell, a multi-nation contingent of troops — Malian, French and American Special Forces — sealed off the hotel’s exits and rushed inside guns blazing.

When the siege ended, five assailants were found dead, officials said.

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Anita Datar, 41, was identified as the lone American killed in the Mali hotel siege.Anita Datar via Twitter

Anita Datar, 41, was identified as the lone American killed in the Mali hotel siege.

Anita Datar, 41, of Takoma Park, Md., was identified as the slain American, while six others were rescued.

“When the terrorists understood that we were coming for them, they executed the hostages in their possession,” one soldier told The Wall Street Journal.

Al Mourabitoun, a shadowy African terror group led by longtime Al Qaeda leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Datar is the mother of a young son, the Washington Post reported. Family members got a phone call from the U.S. ambassador to Mali confirming the worst Friday afternoon.

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France’s defense minister said notorious Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar was “likely behind” the deadly hotel attack.

“We are devastated that Anita is gone — it’s unbelievable to us that she has been killed in this senseless act of violence and terrorism,” her brother, Sanjeev Datar, said in a statement.

“It was more like a real terrorist attack,” said UN Mission spokesman Olivier Salgado. “The intention was clearly to kill, not to necessarily have people being hostage.”

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Shouting “Allahu akbar,” the gunmen hopped out of a car with diplomatic plates and burst inside the luxury resort popular with foreigners and business leaders about 7 a.m.

FBMD01000aab030000cf2a0000e2660000416d0000d1720000709b0000e7fb000023040100080c0100e213010042a10100 Anita Datar via Facebook

Anita Datar 

Enlarge Anita Datar  Anita Datar via Facebook

Anita Datar 

Enlarge

“We are devastated that Anita is gone—it’s unbelievable to us that she has been killed in this senseless act of violence and terrorism,” her brother, Sanjeev Datar, said in a statement.

“At first I thought it was a carjacking,” Modi Coulibaly, a Malian legal expert who witnessed the start of the assault, told Reuters.

“Then they killed two guards in front of me and shot another man in the stomach and wounded him and I knew it was something more.”

The AK-47-toting extremists seized about 170 hotel guests and workers.

Within hours, more than 100 troops — including United Nations peacekeepers — had massed outside.

The troops, after launching their raid, scoured the five-star hotel room by room in search of victims.

Blood spatter dotted the lobby floor, and the walls of several stairwells were riddled with bullets.

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Twelve bodies were found in the basement, and 15 others were discovered on the second floor, a UN official said.

Officers evacuate bodies of victims from the Radisson Blu hotel after the assault of security forces.HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/Getty Images

Officers evacuate bodies of victims from the Radisson Blu hotel after the assault of security forces.

One of the victims was identified as Geoffrey Dieudonne, a member of parliament in Belgium.

A Chinese company said three Chinese business executives were among dead.

The assault came one week after ISIS fighters killed 130 people in a wave of synchronized slaughter in Paris.

Experts said ISIS and Al Qaeda are locked in a battle to claim the mantle of the world’s most fearsome terror group.

Special forces look out from a balcony inside the hotel in Bamako. HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/Getty Images

Special forces look out from a balcony inside the hotel in Bamako.

Enlarge Special forces stand guard ouside the hotel. HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/Getty Images

Special forces stand guard ouside the hotel.

Enlarge

Special forces stand guard from various points around the hotel in Bamako.

“The two are competing for leadership — who’s the top dog in this jihad,” Angel Rabasa, a terrorism expert for the RAND Corp., told the Daily News.

The U.S. has upped its presence in the region since Islamic extremists took control of northern Mali in 2012.

Classified documents reviewed by NBC News show U.S. special forces have been in the country assisting in counterterrorism operations as far back as 2002.

French forces, backed by the U.S., launched a series of interventions a year later aimed at rooting out the Islamist rebels.

The military action sparked a spike in threats against France from a host of extremist groups including Al Qaeda’s African affiliates and ISIS.

French President Francois Hollande declared that his country would stand by Mali.

“Once again, terrorists want to make their barbaric presence felt everywhere, where they can kill, where they can massacre,” Hollande said.

The president of the landlocked West African nation said he expects more terror attacks to follow.

“We don’t want to scare our people, but we have already said that Mali will have to get used to situations like this,” President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita told France 24.

With News Wire Services 

mwagner@nydailynews.com

Tags:
mali ,
terrorism ,
mass murder ,
paris terror attacks ,
radisson blu hotel ,
gun violence ,
francois hollande ,
isis ,
tunisia ,
france ,
al qaeda

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Nation / World – NY Daily News

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