Mali TV shows photos of two suspects in hotel attack
Authorities for first time say they are seeking accomplices to Islamist militant gunmen
Authorities in Mali published photographs on Monday of a man and a woman they believe helped plan an attack on a luxury hotel in which 19 people and two gunmen were killed, according to state television.
It is the first time the authorities have said they were seeking accomplices to the attack by Islamist militants on the Radisson Blu hotel in the capital Bamako on Friday that ended when Malian commandos stormed the building.
“They are suspects. People suspected of having links with the two terrorists (who attacked the hotel),” said a source close to the security ministry.
Chief prosecutor Boubacar Sidiki Samake, who is leading the investigation, said authorities had recovered items that will help them to learn more about how the attack was planned.
“We recovered telephones on them (the two bodies) and machine pistols,” he said on state radio.
The Massina Liberation Front, which has been blamed for previous violence in southern Mali, on Sunday became the third group to claim responsibility for the attack. Jihadist group Al Mourabitoun and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) already had claimed responsibility.
Mali said on Sunday said investigators were following “several leads” in connection with the attack in which some 170 people were taken hostage before the hotel was stormed by commandos.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has said that both gunmen involved in the attack were killed at the hotel were killed, although an eye witness had previously said there was at least one additional attacker.
Former colonial power France is assisting with the probe and has sent in a team of elite investigators to assist.
The bloodshed in Bamako is the latest sign of deepening insecurity in the West African country. Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda seized the desert north in 2012 but were scattered by a French military operation a year later.
However, jihadists have stepped up attacks this year on Western and Malian targets beyond their traditional desert bases. In August, they stormed a hotel in central Mali in August, killing at least 12 people in an attack similar to Friday’s.