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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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Xiaomi Drops Down Smartphone Prices in India

This is the first time when the smartphone market is at par with the feature phone market, each contributing 50 per cent to the overall mobile phone market

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Xiaomi
Xiaomi cuts prices of 5 smartphones in India.

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi on Friday announced that it was permanently cutting the prices of five of its handsets in India, a day after the International Data Corporation (IDC) declared that the company was the market leader in the third quarter of 2018 in the country.

“We are delighted to share that we have seen a reduction in component costs of some of our best-selling phones. We were announced as the number one smartphone vendor in India for the fifth consecutive quarter, as per IDC Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

“As a celebration of that, Xiaomi is announcing price cut for five smartphones,” the company said in a statement.

Xiaomi
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi on Friday announced that it was permanently cutting the prices of five of its handsets in India.

The 4GB+64GB variants of Redmi Note 5 Pro, Mi A2 and Redmi Y2 are now available for Rs 13,999, Rs 15,999 and Rs 11, 999, respectively while the prices of 6GB+128GB variants of Redmi Note 5 Pro and Mi A2 have dropped to Rs 15,999 and Rs 18,999, respectively.

According to the IDC report, the Chinese handset maker shipped 11.7 million units and became the top brand in the Indian market with 27.3 per cent share in the third quarter this year.

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This is the first time when the smartphone market is at par with the feature phone market, each contributing 50 per cent to the overall mobile phone market. (IANS)