US President Barack Obama said on Saturday (21 November) the Mali hotel attacks only stiffened the resolve of the United States and its allies, which would be relentless in fighting those targeting its citizens and would allow militants no safe haven. At least one American citizen has been identified among the 19 dead. In a speech at the Asean summit in Malaysia, Obama described Friday's (20 November) raid and hostage incident in Mali as "another awful reminder of the scourge of terrorism".
"Malian security forces and all our own diplomatic security agents rushed in to pull people to safety. French troops and American troops who were in the country for training missions provided support as did United Nations forces. And thanks to the swift actions of all those involved, many people escaped. Lives were saved and the terrorists were prevented from causing any more bloodshed. But I want the American people to know that we are still working to account for Americans that may have been at the hotel and to ensure the safety of all of our citizens in Mali. Like the heinous attacks we saw in Paris and the attacks we see all too often elsewhere, this is another awful reminder that the scourge of terrorism threatens so many of our nations. Once again this only stiffens our resolve to meet these challenges," he said.
"We will stand with the people of Mali as they work to rid their country of terrorists and strengthen their democracy. With allies and partners the United States will be relentless against those who target our citizens. We'll continue to root out terrorists. We will not allow these killers to have a safe haven," he vowed.
Early on Friday morning, gunmen shouting Islamic slogans attacked the Radisson Blu hotel, which is frequented by foreigners, taking 170 people hostage in Bamako, the country's capital. At least 27 people were initially reported dead after Malian commandos stormed the hotel and dozens of people were reported to have escaped or been freed.