Hotel invasion reportedly carried out by Ansar al-Din group

Members of the group were identified by Al Jazeera TV while 170 hotel guests were being held hostage.

Leader of Ansar al-Din, Iyad Ag Ghaly

According to reports, the ongoing invasion of the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali's capital, Bamako is the work of extremist group, Ansar al-Din.

Ansar al-Din, meaning “supporters of religion”, is an “extremist military group that seeks to implement Islamic Sharia in Mali.”

The group’s leader, Iyad Ag Ghaly, had, in an audio recording released on Monday, November 16, 2015, denounced the peace agreement signed in Mali in June and called for a continuation of the fight against France.

The audio recording was obtained and authenticated by AFP.

Iyad Ag Ghaly, who is linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), criticised rebel groups for signing the peace agreement.

According to AFP, in the 20-minute recording, he accuses the rebels of having sold out blood and soil “by signing the Algiers agreement that stinks of impiety and treason”.

“This is your day, the Crusader has crossed all bounds. Answer this offence with your explosive belts, your remote-controlled charges and your booby-trapped devices,” he said in remarks apparently aimed at reviving attacks on Malian soil as well as in the former colonial power, France.

Gunmen attacked the five-star hotel this morning and captured 170 hostages, consisting of 140 guests and 30 staff members.

According to Al Jazeera, the attackers invaded the hotel with shouts of "Allahu Akbar" and opened fire outside before gaining entrance.

Hostages who were able to recite the Quran were reportedly released by the gunmen. 80 others are said to have been freed by special forces

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