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tv   News  Al Jazeera  November 20, 2015 9:00am-9:31am EST

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>> we are bringing you our continuing coverage on a motel in mali. gunman shouting islamic slogans have taken hostages. 170 people were originally being held. several of them have been released, but three people were killed. here is a closer look at where the raddison blue is located in the mali capital. the massive hotel takes up a whole block. it's in the western district of bamako. we are monitoring the story out
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of the nigerian capitol. people just tuning in to this news, get us right up to date. what's going on there? >> well, we know that some security services, some forces have gained access to the raddison blu hotel. earlier in the day, we know it was surrounded by malien troops, by french special forces who are situated in bamako and some u.n. peacekeepers with a u.n. peacekeeping mission in bamako. we also know that at least 80 of those who were held by that the attackers were freed, or released. what's not clear is whether they were released by the attackers or whether they were freed by the security forces. you were talking about the death toll, currently it stands at three. obviously very unclear, very unsure the circumstances in which these people may have lost their lives and obviously this is going to be a huge concern to people opening trying to diffuse
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the situation. already had diplomatic statements and interventions, the french foreign minister has been speaking, francois hollande, french president has been speaking and we are anticipating, not clear whether it will come, some comments from president obama, about what's going on. social media are awash with stories and information about what people say about what's going on, at least the diplomatic missions, the very diplomatic missions in bamako put out various statements warning this it is away active on going shooter situation happening at the raddison blu hotel and people should stay at home. the big question is what is the cause of this, who are these gunman, what do they want. information we've received so far suggest that there is some connection or some allegiance to some extremist groups like al-qaeda, because apparently, again, very difficult to verify the accuracy of this information, all this is coming from people on the telephones
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who are in the hotel, around the hotel. apparently the gunman were screaming god is great when they took control of the hotel. there were reports that some of the hostages were freed when they were told to recite verses from the koran, they were able to do this when they were let out. obviously for many, this will begin to start to point to some sort of extremism in this area, in this region that we've seen. there are reports of, you know, potential allegiances to groups like al-qaeda, isil, again, not clear, because so far, no one group has come forward to say we are responsible for what's going on. we are behind this attack. and obviously, what we anticipate is happening and what we think is happening inside the hotel right now is maybe potentially some sort of negotiation with these attackers, disturbing reports of gunfire heard in the last future minutes, very worrying, but difficult to get a full handle
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on what's going on with the hotel without being inside. >> the reaction to what happened locally was pretty swift, though, was it not? this was a multi-agency reaction, because you had u.n. forces, french forces, local forces and also malian special forces leading from the front, the u.n. telling us just in the past few minutes here that they're driving whatever it is that's going on inside the building. >> well, that's right, peter. that talks to the fact that this hotel is situated in a part of bamako which would have been heavily fortified, first of all, it's a hotel as we've been reporting frequent by diplomatics, expatriots, foreign workers, but is also in the area where you have a lot of diplomatic missions and embassies, you have a lot of government buildings in the area. security probably would have been very good. talking of my own experience, i've stayed in raddison blu
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hotels in west africa, particularly in dakar, you drive up to the gates, there are various security agents who check the vehicle, looking for bombs, weapons, looking for any kind of device, so a sense of heightened security there. i imagine that would have happened in this situation at the hotel when these attackers arrived. now, there is this report that surfaced, again, not clear how accurate this is, that apparently these people showed up in vehicles which had diplomatic license plates. quite possible for them to get past security and into the building. you know, a good security presence is what i think would have been there. the question is how were they able to penetrate the building and carry out the on going siege with all the security in the area. was the guard of the security down? were people not on alert? were people relaxed?
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there were two attacks earlier this year. my final point, there were two attacks earlier this year, which i did mention earlier, one was in march, a restaurant was attacked, several people were killed. another one took place in august where at least five workers for the united nations were killed by gunfire that took place in a hotel siege similar hoe sell siege in the central part of mali. so, many questions, many of them sometime not answered, and, you know, i'm sure as this story unravels, it will become a lot clearer who these gunman are, what they want and how they were able to plan and execute this fatal, this deadly attack on the raddison blu. >> thank you. >> a journalist in bamako is near the hotel now. give us a feeling, sir, for where you are, what you're seeing and hearing. >> actually, i'm not so far from
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the raddison blu hotel, and then the assault has been launched. we have lots of situation for wounded people directly from the hotel to the stadium nearby rad soon blue. it is about 500 kilometers from the raddison blu hotel. some people, some hostages have been evacuated here. >> just interrupt you for a second, because you've given us a lot of information there in that brief answer. you're 500 meters from the hotel, you're talking about people who have been injured or wounded. do you have an idea of what kind of injuries, what kind of wounds they've sustained?
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>> the injuries are not some little too injuries. some had injured on the arm. we have heard this some have been taken to the hospital, who are seriously wounded, but among these people in that place of the basketball center, there are about 17 people at the time now who are inside there, sitting and trying to come and have a little bit of safe feeling to feel better. >> do we know precisely how many people have been injured and then hospitalized? >> yes.
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we have heard and they had commune kiter of the army, he actually comes from. there have been three people killed and one injured. the number of people who are injured -- after we went to the basketball center where we saw the head commander of the army. >> we had a report of been fire
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emanating from the building. have you heard those reports or heard the gunfire itself? >> no, the gunfire has happened in the morning. when they arrived, that was around 7:15, 7:00 in the morning. that was just the arrival time when they had the gunfire, because i have met some guys who were clients in the hotel, working in the hotel, turkish guy was in the first floors. he said there was sleeping when he heard the gunfire, but he was on the first floor. he jumped from the window to get out. other german guys were sleeping when they heard the gunfire. thirty minutes after, we came there, we didn't hear any gunfire anymore. we start seeing people being evacuated by the ambulances and,
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you know, by the police. >> we've got one report at this end talking about gunfire, and that's just happened, apparently, but you're there, so i'm not going to try to contradict what you're telling us, but also, we have another report saying that soldiers have advanced up through the building so get to the seventh floor. my understanding of what was going on was this was all happening on the fifth floor, not the seventh floor. >> they were up on the seventh among the seventh floor.
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>> thank you very much. >> mali was a french colony of course and paris has been involved in boosting security in the region. just as yvonne was mentioning earlier, the french foreign minister has been speaking about the situation in mali. >> personally, i'm in touch with our messager in bamako and with people in paris. right now, there is action by the malian forces, which has started, and so far as french are concerned, by taking all of
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the necessary steps in order to solve that crisis. the crisis unit has been installed in the embassy in mali and in france. >> andrew, they are sending assistance, french special forces, not there yet, though. >> that's right. they're on their way, flying right now. i think you can see a picture here. this is an elite unit heading with all of their equipment, lightweight equipment and specialist equipment for urban warfare and for the sort of possible tactical use they will be called to use in bamako. now the french are saying that they will give any help that's
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required to their friends in mali. the french president francois hollande has made it quite clear that any french citizen, 6,200 french nationals in bamako alone, he said that any french citizens anywhere in the world innocence active places must be really careful at this time. he's talked about having solidarity with the people of mali. obviously, a reference there to the crisis he's facing here at home after the devastating attack one week ago, and he is obviously right now trying to engage with his diplomats, with the french foreign minister as you heard there to try to assist. the word coming out is that any help required will be given, and they will try to assist mali in this crisis. of course, the french connections former colony of
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france, mali goes back a long time. in january, 2013, france deployed a large force there to draw the request of the mali government to try and repel insurgents to the north who had taken over half of the country. there was a peace deal in 2013 later on, but that only lasted three months and then a further peace deal, in fact this february, 2015, but that hasn't really held. all the disparate groups are still fighting and french troops are scheduled to withdraw, but that hasn't happened yet. this is what the french president had to say about the situation. >> we have to once again show solidarity with our friends in mali. there are many nationalities in this hotel in bamako and i want to assure the maliens that they have our full support and we will help to free the hostages
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in any way we can. i want to tell our french citizens in mali to contact the french embassy for information. >> what's the reaction been like? >> well, the reaction is one of solidarity and one of utter commitment to mali. west africa acknowledge part of africa, as far as the french are concerned is a key area in what they describe as the war against terror. the disparate groups all over this area, there are a total of 3,000 french troops there. we've heard from a number of politicians that they are taking all the necessary steps in order to solve the crisis in mali. we've heard from the french prime minister, who is at the senate seeing through the voting
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and approval of emergency powers to deal with the situation here after the attacks a week ago, and he says that he gives all of his sympathy to the situation in mali to the people of mali and what they're going through. we don't know how many french nationals have been taken hostage in this situation at the raddison blu hotel, but we do know that 12 air transcrew escaped and air france say that they are safe and sound right now. they have suspended all direct air france daily flights to bamako. >> french president hollande calling about a war. what's going on in mali because of the sections between those two countries? does this play into that feeling in france of the french being under attack? >> very interesting question,
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because there you have a bit of the missions abroad, missions overseas. initially, when francois hollande got involved in the mali war effectively, there was support for his actions, because he was taking on what he described as terrorists who would be a threat to the country. however, there were a lot of losses of french soldiers and it didn't work against him domestically. he became quite unpopular as a result. now, we have a situation where france is committing massively to fighting isil, a war with isil both in syria and iraq, and the word now amongst people is yes, there is a popularity for that. there is a feeling that there needs to be revenge. there are shades of 9/11 that many people are referring to on a consistent basis, but what we're hearing now from people in
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france is there's a real mixture of insecurity and grief, a real emotional vacuum, if you will, but this whole commitment to a war in syria is really -- people want to know what is the out. how do you get out? when do you call a victory or defeat. this could be a long haul and it could of course result in more attacks in france, and people are convinced that this is not over, that this major assault on saint denis and apartment and three deaths we are hear now or two, including abaaoud, major player known as the ringleader, this isn't the end. everyone knows that it's not over. there has to be a concerted attempt at trying to defeat isil, but the chance of that happening, well, people are quite skeptical. >> andrew, thank you very much.
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andrew simmons, our reporter for us live there in paris. >> let's stay in paris, because i'm now going to talk to a journalist and expert on the politics of mali and security issues in that country, and in the wider region. he's president at the african information club in paris. he joins us from the french capital now. we were talking earlier and you were raising some very interesting points, but just starting this discussion with what's going on inside the hotel, we seem to have gone into an area of inertia, stories or reports about gunfire, they've been stood down, so somebody is talking to somebody else and it would appear that the malien special forces think they can get a positive outcome to this. >> yes, probably it is what they can wish since a long time, mali
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is supposed to host the next summit, that's why they have organized such a summit and it is i consider good news that happens now, because you have to focus on the security issues before the summit and i hope also that when president hollande says there will be solidarity, that would mean they want put mali in the summit which will be held in bamako. >> in terms of what happened in the early hours of this morning in bamako, who has the audacity and who has the resources to do what they have done? >> well, to be -- to say all the truth, i think mali authorities now are not able to face the
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situation. they are helped by their partners, american, french, the u.n. force in mali. what will be the most important in this collaboration between the g5, which is the coalition of those countries fighting jihadism. and then the next issue also important is to build a very strong army, very strong defense forces in mali, because everyone can try to help mali, if maliens are not able to help themselves, it will not help. >> is mali a particularly soft target when you look at it in the cop text of its neighboring countries? >> well, mali can say the less strong country in this zone to
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fight the security issues, and specially this terror issue, but they are held by many others, like chad, for example, where they are holding this summit now. i hope that is the hope of all the mali partners that they will recover the serenity in the whole country and be able to protect themselves by their open forces alone. >> thank you very much. who do you think would want to do this and what are they trying to achieve? >> there is quite a number of groups in milli and in the region who may be interested in creating trouble not only for the mali government, but the western powers and particularly france. as andrew simmons has been pointing out inside earlier presentation about this. france is heavily involved and
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has been heavily involved for decades and the people in the north blame every misery they have faced in the last few decades on the french policies, they consider that the french shouldn't have annex would the north to mali and consider they have a right to be an independent state. we have also internal groups as i membered, this new group, they are marginalized according to their own claims. we have al-qaeda which is spreading, as it has been acting or operating across the region. they are in northern mali. for sure, they are in other parts of the area. we have boko haram, which has proved that it can act not only in nigeria, bub in the neighboring countries, so these are different groups, but the interesting thing about this particular incident today is that nobody is saying much about it, and even those who are
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supposed to be negotiating now with the highjackers or abductors, they aren't tell us a lot. there is a lock of transparency. i think the mali authorities should leak more information to the international community, to the world about what demands these people are talking about, by they have done this. if there is any level of conversation, then these people must be demanding something and the world needs to know that. and also, the fact that the french are nationals in this hotel and they are not really telling us how many there and what time of people there and other western countries, there is a lot of obscurity and part of it is very difficult at the moment, probably it is for security reasons, but we need to know those elements so we can make better analysis of the situation. >> it is a very combustible situation going on at the rod son blue hotel. more than 100 people -- sorry, i've got that wrong, more than 70 or 80 people still held
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hostage. we have got into this situation, this loop over the past two hours or so, the authorities maintaining radio silence on who they are talking to. we are assuming, we haven't been told, we are assuming they are talking to the host only takers. there were reports of gunfire. we had two separate reports of gunfire, but one of our contributors on the ground behind the building on his mobile told us there had been no gunfire in the last hour. that was one of those reports that goes into a churning mix, that was the gunfire that was heard first thing this morning, seven hours g.m.t. there was no gunfire according to that one person. we'll stay with these picture talking with muhammed. what is the quid pro quo here, france nurtures that relationship, puts it in the in
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incubator and nurtures it. what does france think they would get. >> we shouldn't think about direct dividends here or calculable results. they have their own investments there. we don't know much about them. they are the mining, the mys in mali. they have troops in several places in africa. they consider that they are still the power that should take care of problems in the region and also maintain security and they have been paying a heavy price for that for many years, but also, the prestige and the glory of the french empire that has been there for a long time, they don't want the americans to take that. >> it's as simple as that, a country's ego. >> i can't say this is everything. this is one of the factors, but also remember the french know that they have either to give in to these attackers, these groups
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and leave the region. you don't see white people, french people or american people coming for tourism anymore. you don't see them trey conducting business in the area, so france needs a kind of situation where they can operate trial, go to the mines, their troops can move around, they're people can move around. it is a situation they have enjoyed for several decades, they don't want to lose that. that's quite an important level of interest for them there. that's only one of many factors considered. the chinese are trying to take a much stronger foot hold in africa, the french are trying to maintain their priorities in the region. the americans, also they have their troops there. these super powers, they have left and they have given a kind of independence to these countries, but they are still there act competition is still there between those powers. >> let's recap for you if you're just joining us on the hostage situation at the raddison blu
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hotel in bamako. local malien special forces helping to bring the hostages out. there are 10 gunman involved in the attack. three people were killed. security forces have managed to rescue at least 80 people so far. several internationalities are involved, there are frenches, indians in there, nigerians and of course maliens. june the french authorities confirmed a third body recovered in saint denis apartment is that of the 26-year-old cousin of
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abdelhamid abaaoud. she blew herself up on wednesday during the siege. it comes at e.u. leaders met in brussels to discuss tougher measures, tightening the exterrible borders of the schengen zone. >> more people taken away under france's expanded security powers for questioning. this is said to be the mother and brother of the female suicide bomber who blew herself up wednesday as police raided an apartment in the paris suburb of saint denis. the paris prosecutor identified the woman, possibly a cousin of abdelhamid abaaoud also killed in wednesday's raid and identified as the architect of the attacks. a neighbor explained that she'd been ill treated a

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