Militant Group Publishes Photo of What It Says Were Mali Hotel Attackers

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Militants in Mali attacked the Radisson Blu in the capital Bamako, killing 20 people. The attack was claimed by Al Mourabitoun and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghrib. REUTERS/Joe Penney

ACCRA, Dec 7 (Reuters) – Islamist militant group al Mourabitoun published a photograph on Monday of two men dressed in military fatigues it said attacked a luxury hotel in Mali’s capital on Nov. 20 and killed 20 people, the SITE monitoring group said.

The image shows the young men holding AK-47 rifles and standing in front of a pick-up truck bearing a black flag with Arabic writing that is apparently an emblem of a militant group.

“Two knights from the knights of martyrdom … carried out an operation on the Radisson hotel, killing in it dozens of foreigners of various nationalities,” read a photo caption in Arabic that named the two men.

It was not possible to confirm independently whether the men who assaulted the Radisson Blu and died during their operation were the ones shown in the photograph.

Mali state television last month showed photographs of the corpses of two men it said were the attackers.

State TV did not name the two men. But the names given by al Mourabitoun on Monday conformed to the names it used in an earlier message.

The attack reflected a deterioration in security in Mali two years after a French-led military operation to scatter Islamist militants who briefly occupied the desert north.

French troops and a 10,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force (MINUSMA) are struggling to stabilise the former French colony, and attacks on both Malian and Western targets have spread further south and far beyond traditional militant strongholds.

Six Russians, three Chinese and citizens of other countries including Mali, Israel, Belgium and the United States died in the attack in the West African state’s capital Bamako.

The photograph was posted by the Al-Ribat Media Foundation, which is al Mourabitoun’s media unit, and was seen by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors radical Islamist organizations in the media.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said last week it has joined forces with al Mourabitoun and together they staged the attack.

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