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I’ve not been held hostage in Mali – Dangote

Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote has denied being held hostage in Mali after gunmen attacked on Friday and took 170 people hostage.

News was rife in the international media that the business magnate was in Mali and was part of those held inside the luxurious Radisson Blu Hotel.

So far 80 hostages have been released with commandos going floor to floor inside the hotel, state broadcaster reported.

“The attackers are still inside. We’re hearing gunfire from time to time,” a witness outside the Radisson told Reuters news agency.

Attackers shouting “Allahu Akbar” earlier opened fire outside the luxury hotel in the centre of the capital before storming it.

Dangote in a tweet dispelled reports that he has been under attack:

Both the US and French embassies told their citizens to take cover and stay indoors. 
The shooting follows a 24-hour siege of hostage-takers at another hotel in August in the central Malian town of Sevare.

Four soldiers, five UN workers and four attackers were killed in that attack.

Armed groups have continued to wage attacks in Mali despite a June peace deal between former Tuareg rebels in the north of the country and rival pro-government armed groups.

Northern Mali fell in March-April 2012 to al-Qaeda-linked groups long concentrated in the area, before being removed by a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.

Despite the peace deal, large swathes of Mali remain beyond the control of government and foreign forces.

Source: Ghana/ with additional files from Al Jazeera

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