BAMAKO, Mali (AP) – Malian special forces have arrested two men over last week’s attack on a luxury hotel in the capital that killed 19 people, according to a statement distributed Friday morning.
The statement identified the two Malians, both arrested in Bamako, but provided no other details on their background or their potential roles in the attack.
“Questioning of these suspects will shed more light on the motivations of the perpetrators of the sordid terrorist attack perpetrated” at the Radisson Blu hotel on Nov. 20, said the statement sent by army Maj. Modibo Naman Traore.
Two gunmen armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and explosives stormed the hotel before 7 a.m., striking just as security guards were about to change shifts. After shooting four of the five guards, killing one, they fired wildly in the lobby and breakfast dining area before heading to the hotel’s upper floors. Malian troops, backed by French and American special forces, swarmed in to retake the building and free terrified guests and hotel staff during a siege that lasted more than seven hours.
The gunmen were killed at the scene, and on Monday state media broadcast their photos, asking anyone with information about them to come forward.
The attack has been claimed by the Al-Mourabitoun extremist group, which said it had worked in concert with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. The attack was also claimed, however, by the Macina Liberation Front, a group active in central Mali, in cooperation with Ansar Dine militants.
On Sunday, Al-Mourabitoun issued a statement purporting to identify the gunmen, using names suggesting they were Malian, but authorities have yet to confirm their identities.
The 19 dead included an American aid worker, three senior officials with a Chinese railway company and six employees of a Russian cargo company in addition to three hotel employees.