One day after gunmen attacked the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital and killed at least 19 people, the authorities are looking for at least three suspects, in addition to the two who died Friday.
Jihadist group al-Mourabitoun says it is behind the attacks, and that it conducted the operation along with another al-Qaida affiliate, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, according to government officials and the jihadist monitor SITE Intelligence.
Al-Mourabitoun was founded by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an Algerian who had left AQIM — and who, as NPR’s Tom Bowman reports, “was believed killed in a U.S. airstrike back in June. So U.S. officials are trying to determine whether or not he is in fact dead.”
Those killed in Friday’s attack include citizens of China, Russia and America; when the hotel was attacked, it held visitors from 14 different countries, officials say. At least 130 hostages were reportedly freed after Malian special forces cleared the hotel floor by floor. Both French and U.S. military personnel were also on the scene.
The lone American killed was Anita Datar, a former Peace Corps volunteer who worked in global health and international development. A New Jersey native, she lived in Takoma Park, Md.; Datar is survived by a young son and other family members.
A statement released by the State Department on behalf of Datar’s family reads in part:
“Everything she did in her life she did to help others— as a mother, public health expert, daughter, sister and friend. And while we are angry and saddened that she has been killed, we know that she would want to promote education and healthcare to prevent violence and poverty at home and abroad, not intolerance.”