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All 20 Indian hostages in besieged Mali Hotel safely evacuated: Govt

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New Delhi: All 20 Indians among the 170 people taken hostage in a five-star hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako on Friday have been evacuated safely, Vikas Swarup, the External Affairs ministry spokesperson, tweeted.

The ministry said initially that India’s ambassador was monitoring the situation, and later announced that all the Indians had been “safely evacuated”.

The Radisson Blu Hotel chain said two armed men locked 140 guests and 30 employees, CNN reported. Two Malian citizens and a French national were killed.

But some 80 people, including three UN staff members, were the first to be freed, the country’s state broadcaster ORTM said.

ALSO READ: Hostage situation at Mali Hotel, al-Qaeda affiliated group claims responsibility

Twelve Air France crew members staying in the hotel were in a “safe place”, the airline said. Air France has cancelled all its flights Friday to and from Bamako as a precaution.

The Radisson Blu Hotel is about 15 minutes away from the Bamako Senou International Airport.

According to Xinhua news agency, at least seven Chinese guests were among the hostages.

One of them exchanged instant messages with a Xinhua reporter and said he heard multiple gunshots outside his room and then smelled smoke.

The ordeal began at around 7.00 a.m. when two men carrying AK-47s reached the hotel in a vehicle or vehicles with diplomatic plates, said Olivier Saldago, a spokesman for the UN Mission in Mali.

According to Salgado, the hotel was hosting a large delegation for the Mali peace process.

Mali, located in west Africa and the eighth largest country in Africa, has been hit by an armed conflict since January 2012. It led to intervention by French troops against Islamists in the country’s north.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita cut short his trip to Chad and flew back to Mali, a country of 14.5 million people where Islam is the dominant religion.

(With inputs from IANS)

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India successfully test fires n-capable Agni-V ballistic missile

The missile was earlier tested successfully in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016.

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Nirbhay
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) sources said the Nirbhay missile test was "successful".(Representative image) VOA
  • India successfully tests the Agni-V ballistic missile on Thursday
  • This was the fifth test that missile underwent
  • With this success India is now in ranks with US, UK, China and Russia

India on Thursday successfully test fired its indigenously developed intercontinental surface-to-surface nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni-V — the most potent and with the longest range in the Agni series – that can reach targets as far as Beijing.

The test took place at the Abdul Kalam Island facility off the Odisha coast. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted about its success, congratulating its makers DRDO, the armed forces and the defence industry.

You may also like : Ballistic missile Agni-IV test fired as part of user trial

India has many high tech and powerful missiles to its name. Wikimedia Commons
India has many high tech and powerful missiles to its name. Wikimedia Commons

She said the successful test of the 5,000-km-range missile that can carry a one-tonne warhead, was “a major boost to the defence capabilities of our country”.

“The Made in India canistered missile, having three stages of propulsion, was successfully test fired,” she tweeted.

Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Agni-V is the most advanced version of the Agni series, part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme that started in the 1960s.

The missile was earlier tested successfully in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016.

This was the fifth test of the missile and likely to be its first user trial, though there was no official word on it.

India is developing new technologies everyday to strengthen its defence.
India is developing new technologies everyday to strengthen its defence.

Thursday’s test brings the missile closer to its induction in the tri-service Strategic Forces Command.

The missile has a much longer shelf life, with its container being made of special steel that absorbs the blast of the takeoff.

In the canisterised launch, a gas generator inside ejects the missile up to a height of about 30 metres. A motor is then ignited to fire the missile.

Also Read : Nikki Haley says North Korea Could Face Stronger Sanctions due to its 7th Missile test in 2017 .

With this missile, India joins the super-exclusive club of ICBM (missiles with a range of over 5,000-5,500 km) capable countries of the US, Russia, the UK, France and China. IANS