The al-Qaeda linked group al-Mourabitoun has claimed responsibility for the ongoing hostage crisis in the Malian capital of Bamako, in which at least 27 have been killed.

Reuters reported that the group claimed responsibility for the attack on social media but the assertions have not been independently verified.

Mauritania's state news agency, al-Akhbar, has stated it received a telephone call from the group claiming the attack was made in retaliation for government aggression in northern Mali and demanding the release of a number of prisoners.

The group, a patchwork of different Islamist organisations that emerged from Mali's Taureg rebellion in 2012, is affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Ansar al-Dine, who took control of Mali's second city of Timbuktu in 2013.

Some of the leadership within al-Mourabitoun have expressed their affinity with the aims of the so-called Islamic State, despite the preeminence of al-Qaeda in the western sahel. The group's two leaders Mokhtar Belmokhtar and Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui were seen to clash over pledging allegiance to the terror group in Iraq and Syria in 2014.

In August, in an attack claimed by al-Mourabitoun, 17 people were killed at a hotel in Sevare in central Mali, some 600 km (375 miles) north east of Bamako. The group is designated as a terrorist organisation by the UN as well as the governments of the UK and the US.