It made the announcement on its Twitter account, Reuters says, but the claim could not be verified.
Al-Murabitoun is made up of two groups which broke away from a North African branch of al-Qaeda. The Reuters news agency is reporting that the jihadist group al-Murabitoun has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako.
What we know so far:
- There were 170 people at the hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako when it was attacked this morning.
- 30 were hotel staff
- 20 were Indians
- 10 were Chinese
- Seven Algerians, six of whom were diplomats
- Six were Turkish airline staff
- Two were Moroccans
- Two were Russians working for Ulyanovsk airline
- Guinean singer Sekouba Bambino was there
- An unknown number of French, including 12 Air France crew
- US citizens are suspected to have been in the hotel
Some of the above have managed to escape but 138 people were said to be still trapped at the building at 12:45 GMT as security forces move floor to floor.
In case you’re not familiar with this vast West African country, here are a few important things to know:
- In January 2013, France sent troops to Mali to fight radical Islamists, who had captured vast swathes of territory in the country’s north.
- One of the towns captured by the al-Qaeda linked Islamists was the ancient desert city of Timbuktu, a historic centre of Islamic learning, 1,000km (600 miles) north of the capital Bamako. Its name has come to be used in the West as a synonym for a place which is very, very far away.
- Between 1200-1600, Mali was the largest empire in West Africa, producing around half of the world’s gold in the 14th Century. It remains Africa’s third largest gold producer.
- Mali is renowned worldwide for having produced some of the stars of African music, like Salif Keita, Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate. Its world-famous Festival in the Desert has not been held for the past three years due to insecurity in the north.