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All hostages ‘freed’ at Mali hotel, al-Qaeda affiliated group claims responsibility

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Bamako (Mali): Gunmen on Friday attacked the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako, killing at least three people, taking hostage some 170 people including 20 Indians. All hostages, including Indians, were evacuated as security forces launched a counter-assault.

LIVE updates:

All hostages have been freed at the besieged hotel in Mali capital, Bamako, BBC reported quoting a minister in Mali government.

Supporters of al-Qaeda-affiliated group have claimed responsibility for the attack in Mali: Reports

Six US citizens have been recovered from the Radisson hotel in Mali capital, Bamako, a US military spokesman said.

According to reports, the gunmen are currently holding up at the seventh floor of the hotel as Malian special forces advance to neutralize them.

US special forces are assisting in Mali hotel hostage recovery: Pentagon

“Two Germans have been released from the besieged hotel,” Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier said.

Sékouba “Bambino” Diabate, a Guinean singer, one of the 170 hostages help by armed gunmen at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, overheard the terrorists speaking English. He said:

“I heard them say in English ‘Did you load it?’ ‘Let’s go’… I wasn’t able to see them because in these kinds of situations it’s hard.”

According to reports, the rescue operation by the US, French and Malian forces is underway. 125 guests and 13 staff are reportedly still being held hostage by the attackers who number between two and 13.

The hotel has announced a telephone helpline.

All 20 Indians who had been staying at the Radisson Blu hotel are safe, the Indian Embassy in Mali has said. An embassy official told the BBC:

“They are in a block of the hotel which is slight off the main area. They are employees of a private business enterprise. We are in touch with them.”

The attackers arrived at same time as a car with diplomatic plates, but were not in it, says Mali’s Security Ministry.

https://twitter.com/StateDept/status/667693942444572672

According to reports, a hostage freed from the besieged Mali hotel “heard attackers speaking English”.

The French counter-terrorist and hostage rescue specialist GIGN anti-terror unit is on its way to Mali capital Bamako.

Air France has confirmed that its 12 crew members in Bamako hotel have been freed and are in a secure location. Airfrance statement

According to reports, a second assault is underway in the Bamako hotel, led by US and French special forces.

The French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, says France will take “all steps necessary” to combat the Bamako attackers. A crisis unit is set up in the local French embassy in this regard.

According to reports, 5 Turkish Airlines employees have been freed from the besieged hotel in Bamako.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack in Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako.

Mali State TV claims as many as 80 hostages have been freed from the besieged hotel in Mali.

The UN says it has sent reinforcements to the ongoing siege at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako.Un statement

The Islamist gunmen were moving floor by floor through the building and had arrived at the seventh floor, a senior security source was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“They are in the process of going floor by floor, room by room. They’ve now arrived at the seventh floor,” he said.

According to reports, as many as 15 Indians are among the hostages at the Mali hotel. The Indians, who work for a Dubai-based Indian firm, are safe, NDTV reported.

“I saw corpses. It’s horrible,” a released hostage was quoted as saying by Le Parisien.

A Turkey’s Foreign Ministry official has confirmed that six Turkish Airlines personnel were staying at the besieged hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako, ABC reported.

Mali army commander says about 20 hostages have been freed from Bamako hotel seized by the gunmen, according to reports.

US President Barack Obama has been briefed by his national security advisor on the terrorist attack and hostage incident at Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako, a White House official said.

Obama, currently in Malaysia, had asked his team to keep him apprised of the ongoing situation in Mali.

Three deaths have been confirmed so far – 2 from Mali, 1 from France in the Radisson hotel in Bamako.

After reports of Air France crew being held hostages in the Mali hotel, the airlines said they were monitoring the situation.

Several Chinese guests are among those “trapped” at the hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency said.

“A Chinese guest surnamed Chen told Xinhua via WeChat mobile app that he was among a number of Chinese guests trapped in the hotel,” Xinhua said.

The gunmen have reportedly released some of the hostages held, including those who could recite the Quran, according to NEWS On 247.

Here’s the statement released by the US embassy in Mali capital:Statement US

“The Rezidor hotel group, which manages the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, understands that a hostage-taking is under way at the site today,” the group said in a statement, adding, “According to our information, two people are holding 140 clients and 30 employees”.

The US Embassy in Mali has asked citizens to shelter in place amid reports of an ‘‘ongoing active shooter operation’’ at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako.

The 190-room hotel had been taken over by the gunmen with 170 hostages, including guests and staff. A firefight was on between the security forces and the attackers.

According to reports, the jihadists had entered the hotel in a diplomatic car and were “walking calmly”.

“It’s all happening on the seventh floor, jihadists are firing in the corridor,” a security source told a news agency.

French and Dutch troops are stationed in Mali.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Belling The Cat: The Difficult Relationship of India with Turkey

The land of the Whirling Dervishes, where the compassionate views of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi have cast a lasting shadow, is India’s forbidden fruit

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Turkey and India's relationship is very rocky. Pixabay

By Tania Bhattacharya

  • India and Tukey share a bad relationship
  • There are numerous reasons for it
  • Some of the reasons are as trivial as they can get
Ms. Tania Bhattacharya

When the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, passed away on the morning of the 10th of November 1938, months before the world broke out into war, a Turkish lady in the streets of Istanbul commented to a reporter covering the tragedy, lamenting “Turkey has lost her lover. Now, she must marry and settle down”. The incident is mentioned in Irfan’s Orga’s ‘Phoenix Ascendant’, a comprehensive biography of Mustafa Kemal Pasha.

National heroes are lionized almost everywhere among native communities; but Ataturk and his younger contemporary Subhash Chandra Bose, enjoy a kind of veneration among their people, that even hardened jingoists elsewhere, would not be caught doing. Subhash was an admirer of Ataturk and was determined to meet him, until the British overlords of India, put a spanner in the works. That was not all. In his ‘Glimpses Of World History’, India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, made glowing references to Mustafa Kemal, calling him a progressive head of state with the singular objective of emancipating the women of his country. Indeed in Turkey, Kemalism is the byword for progressiveness and the radical intellectual approach.

India and Turkey have troubles due to Kashmir as well. VOA

The trajectory of Sultanate ridden Turkey, and post-colonial India have been analogous, but with a few exceptions. Both countries started out with a prominent Socialist outlook, and statesmen who could navigate the complex waters of international one-upmanship to establish their nascent independent territories into positions of respect. Ataturk did this by having the humiliating Treaty of Sevres, scrapped and Nehru hoisted India to the enviable position of the leader of the NAM (Non-Aligned Movement).

Both men encouraged the scientific temper and set their respective countries on the path of western style democracy. India and Turkey are both Constitutionally Laic, Socialist Republics, with elected governments at the helm of affairs. Both states have successfully produced indomitable women heads of state; Indira Gandhi in India, and Tancu Ciller in Turkey.

However, barring the temper of the Constitutions of the two countries, there have been dichotomies which cannot be missed. The Indian state has an army that has never displayed an interest in the legislative functioning of its polity, maintaining a respectful distance from political upheavals. On the other hand, the Turkish military has tried to usurp power multiple times, in that country. The first three times it attempted to do so, it successfully affected a regime change. The years were 1960, 1971, and 1980. A fourth rumbling from the uniformed men was heard in 2016, but was immediately suppressed and extinguished by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Some insiders and whistle blowers have claimed, that the coup was an eyewash, that was perpetrated by Erdogan’s moles present within the military. After all, the only person who benefitted from the crackdowns, was Erdogan himself.

India’s north-western neighbour, has been a major roadblock on the path to India-Turkey relations. Right from its inception, Pakistan has been a firm ally of Turkey. The roots of this friendship go deep down and can be found embedded in the Khilafat movement of the sub-continent during British times, when Indian Muslims had banded together to oppose the abdication of the last Turkish Sultan, and with him, the position of the Caliph of Islam. Turkey supports Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir, something that has always troubled the Indian upper echelons, which wants to steer the relationship between their nation and Turkey, ahead.

Where Kemalism had impressed itself upon the elite masses of Turkey, with its accent on westernization, President Erdogan has managed to ride the votebank of the working class, with his emphasis on political Islam. He, unlike his other civilian predecessors, has not only managed to hold on to his position, but has also been successful in reinforcing it and becoming the master of all he surveys.