Victims of Mali Hotel Attack

At least 21 people have died in an attack at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, according a spokesman for the United Nations as reported by CNN.

Gunmen stormed the upscale hotel Friday shouting, "Allahu Akbar," and firing their guns as they entered the building. A hostage situation developed as security forces laid siege to the building, which was hosting several international guests including diplomats. The siege ended by late afternoon, with most of the hostages freed by security forces. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

This is the latest and highest profile attack in the West African nation. A former French colony, Mali has seen much conflict in recent years between Islamic Tuareg rebels in the northern desert, some with ties to Al Qaeda, and the larger sub-Saharan population in the south, where the capital, Bamako, is located.

In 2013, France sent troops at the request of the Mali government to help stop a rebel advance on the capital from the north. The advance was driven back, but the region remains unstable. Later that year, rebels attacked a gas production facility in neighboring Algeria, killing 38 people.

The ongoing U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country has been one of the deadliest in the world, with 40 peacekeepers killed, according to The New York Times.

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