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Hostages Freed as Deadly Standoff Ends at Mali Hotel


Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, right, reviews troops in Kati, near Bamako, after visiting soldiers injured in an attack on their camp in northern Mali earlier in the week that left 11 other soldiers dead, Aug. 6, 2015.

Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, right, reviews troops in Kati, near Bamako, after visiting soldiers injured in an attack on their camp in northern Mali earlier in the week that left 11 other soldiers dead, Aug. 6, 2015.

Malian soldiers have raided a hotel in central Mali, freeing four hostages and ending a standoff with Islamist militants that left at least 11 people dead.

Defense officials did not give the nationalities of the hostages freed in the early Saturday operation, which they said was backed by French soldiers.

The jihadists stormed the Byblos Hotel early Friday, killing a U.N. staff member and five Malian soldiers and taking other guests hostage. At least two militants were also killed.

Officials say at least three more bodies were found at the hotel following the Saturday raid, though their identities were not clear.

The standoff had lasted for about an entire day, after the jihadists were able to fight off several initial attempts to dislodge them.

The hotel was used by U.N. staff and had guests from France, South Africa, Russia and Ukraine.

The attack underscores the threat posed by Islamist militants who remain active in northern and central Mali despite the presence of U.N. peacekeepers.

A French-led military force ousted Islamist groups from power in northern Mali in 2013. The groups had seized power in the north after a military coup in Bamako in 2012.

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