BREAKING: At least three hostages have been killed and Mali security forces are now storming the besieged Bamako hotel - AFP reports
Gunmen have attacked a Radisson hotel in Mali's capital Bamako, taking 140 guests and 30 employees hostage, according to a statement from the hotel chain.
The Rezidor Hotel Group said it "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."
A security source told Reuters as many as 10 gunmen had stormed the building, firing shots and shouting "Allahu Akbar", or "God is great" in Arabic.
Witnesses had earlier reported gunfire and the area being sealed off.
People run to flee from the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali. Photo: AP Photo/Harouna Traore
"Very early in the morning there was gunfire. Apparently it's an attempt to take hostages. The police are there and are sealing off the area," Reuters reported a security source saying.
"It's all happening on the seventh floor, jihadists are firing in the corridor," a security source told AFP.
The US Embassy in Bamako has tweeted that it is aware of an ongoing "shooter operation" and called on US citizens to take shelter and "adhere to the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media".
SECURITY MESSSAGE (1/4) The Embassy is aware of an ongoing active shooter operation at the Radisson Hotel.— U.S. Embassy Bamako (@USEmbassyMali) November 20, 2015
SECURITY MESSAGE (2/4) The U.S. Embassy staff has been asked to shelter in place. All U.S. citizens should shelter in place.— U.S. Embassy Bamako (@USEmbassyMali) November 20, 2015
The 190-room hotel is located west of the city center, according to its website, and "provides upscale lodging close to many government offices and business sites".
Friday's attack follows a nearly 24-hour siege and hostage-taking at another hotel in August in the central Malian town of Sevare.
Four soldiers, five UN workers and four attackers were killed.