Mali leader: Peace process won't be derailed

Bamako – On Friday November 20, gunmen stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako, taking at least 170 people hostage. After a nine-hour standoff with Malian soldiers and UN troops, the siege ended. Nineteen people were killed and two gunmen were also shot dead.
Several groups operating in northern Mali have claimed responsibility for the attack, including an al-Qaeda offshoot.
Mali’s instability is a consequence of the 2012 takeover of the north by Tuareg-led rebels and the military coup that followed.
This eventually led to a military intervention by France – the former colonial power in Mali – backed by the UN Security Council.
While the presence of French forces has helped to bring about some stability in the country, the north has remained volatile despite a peace agreement signed by various groups in June this year. Violence between armed groups in the north has continued, while the south and Bamako have until recently been spared.
The attack on the Radisson Blu, considered one of the most secure hotels in Bamako, comes as a huge blow to a country that is trying to get back on its feet.
Despite ending its Operation Serval in July 2014, France continues to maintain a strong military presence in the region. The focus now has been to fight extremism throughout the Sahel region.

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