BAMAKO, Mali — Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has ordered a 10-day state of emergency and three days of national mourning in the wake of an attack on a luxury hotel that left at least 20 people dead.

At least two men entered the Radison Blu Hotel on Friday morning, shouted “Allahu Akbar” and began a shooting rampage that killed at least one American and many other businessmen and politicians from around the world – a huge blow to a country that has waged one of Africa’s largest campaigns against extremism.

On Saturday, government officials and intelligence experts tried to piece together who was behind the attack and how the assailants were able to enter the hotel without any resistance.


Two Islamist groups, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and al-Mourabitoun, claimed responsibility for the attack. Both have links to al-Qaida and are among terrorist groups that operate in North and West Africa.

The scene outside the hotel was quiet Saturday, as troops set up a cordon and other soldiers went room to room, inspecting the damage.

“Today we have an emergency. These terrorists are a global threat that we need to attack globally,” said lawmaker Amadou Thiam, a vice president of Mali’s parliament. “Our government needs to introduce stricter identification and information systems so that we can track everybody.”

Friday’s attack was the latest in a year of deadly Islamist-led assaults across sub-Saharan Africa, where a patchwork of conflicts has sometimes been overshadowed by Islamic State violence in other parts of the world.


From al-Shabab in Somalia to Boko Haram in Nigeria, the continent is host to a profusion of violent extremist groups, with a range of local and transnational goals, seeking to execute large-scale attacks against civilians.

The latest attack in Mali underscored how vulnerable the West African country remains, even after French forces and a small number of U.S. troops helped unseat Islamists from their northern stronghold in 2013. Before that campaign, militants appeared to be gaining ground, moving closer to the capital, seizing on the chaos caused by a 2012 military coup. The current government still has only tenuous influence in parts of the country, and the remaining French forces in particular are considered targets.