Gunmen attacked a five-star hotel in Mali's capital Bamako on Friday and are holding 170 hostages, witnesses said.
Attackers started a shooting rampage inside the Radisson Blu Hotel - owned by the Rezidor Hotel Group - in the centre of the capital, security sources told the AFP news agency.
"It is all happening on the seventh floor, jihadists are firing in the corridor," an unnamed security official was quoted as saying.
Automatic weapon fire could be heard from outside the 190-room hotel, where security forces set up a security cordon.
"The Rezidor Hotel Group ... is aware of the hostage-taking that is ongoing at the property today... As per our information two persons have locked in 140 guests and 30 employees," the company said in a statement.
France in Mali: protection or control?
The shooting follows a 24-hour siege and hostage-taking situation at another hotel in August in the central Malian town of Sevare.
Four soldiers, five UN workers, and four attackers were killed in that attack.
Armed groups have continued to wage attacks in Mali despite a June peace deal between former Tuareg rebels in the north of the country and rival pro-government armed groups.
Northern Mali fell in March-April 2012 to al-Qaeda-linked groups long concentrated in the area before being removed by a France-led military operation launched in January 2013.
Despite the peace deal, large swathes of Mali remain beyond the control of government and foreign forces.(aljazeera)