An Israeli national was among 27 people killed Friday in a siege by Islamist terrorists at a luxury hotel in Mali’s capital of Bamako, the Foreign Ministry confirmed Saturday, according to the Israeli media.
He was named as Shmuel Benalal, who worked as an educator with the Koby Mandell Foundation charity and as a consultant to various governments around the world. He was working with the Mali government as an education consultant.
Benalal, 60, lived in Tzur Hadassah, and was married with three children.
The Foreign Ministry also confirmed that another Israeli was rescued from the hostage-takers by security forces, the Hebrew-language Walla website reported.
Islamist terrorists stormed the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako on Friday morning, firing automatic weapons and seizing more than 100 guests and staff.
Malian television broadcast chaotic scenes from inside the hotel as police and other security personnel ushered bewildered and terrified guests along corridors and across the main lobby.
The siege ended after some nine hours when local and French special forces carried out a dramatic floor-by-floor rescue, according to local television and security sources. The assault was claimed by al-Qaeda affiliate the al-Murabitoun group, led by notorious one-eyed Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
The palatial 190-room Radisson, regarded as one of West Africa’s best hotels, attracts entrepreneurs, tourists and government officials from across the world with its luxury spa, outdoor pool and conference suites.
US President Barack Obama on Saturday condemned the attack as “appalling,” saying that “the terrorists began ruthlessly killing people and taking hostages” at the hotel.
“On behalf of the American people I want to extend our deepest condolences to the people of Mali and the victims’ families, including at least one American,” he said. “These were innocent people who had everything to live for.”
AP and AFP contributed to this report