BAMAKO — At least 21 people have been killed after suspected Islamist activists stormed a luxury hotel in Mali’s capital and took scores of visitors and staff hostage.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced the hostage death toll at 19 and said seven people were injured in the attack. He said two militants had also kicked the bucket.
“Tonight the death toll is heavy,” Mr Keita said on state television, declaring a 10-day state of emergency and three days of national mourning.
US president Barack Obama condemned what he called the “appalling” jihadist attack.
“This barbarity only stiffens our resolve to meet this challenge,” he said during a visit to Malaysia, referring to the global threat of extremist violence.
A total of 170 people, including many foreigners, were inside the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako when the gunmen, driving a car with diplomatic plates, broke through security.
The hostages were held for several hours before Malian commandos made their move to free the hostages.
“They currently have no more hostages in their hands and forces are in the process of tracking them down,” security minister Salif Traore told a news conference following the stand-off.
A UN official earlier said peacekeepers searching the hotel made a preliminary count of 27 bodies, but the figure was revised down by the president’s office.
An African Jihadist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Al-Murabitoun, a group based in northern Mali and made up mostly of Tuaregs and Arabs, posted a message on Twitter saying it was responsible, as well as a video message that was broadcast by Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television.
“We the Murabitoun, with the participation of our brothers from Al-Qaeda in the Islam Maghreb (AQIM), claim the hostage-taking operation at the Radisson hotel,” said a man’s voice in an audio recording.
A security source said the gunmen had dug in on the seventh floor of the hotel as special forces advanced on them.
US and French special forces were on site to help in the rescue operation.
State television showed footage of troops in camouflage fatigues wielding AK47s in the lobby of the Radisson Blu. In the background, a body lay under a brown blanket at the bottom of a flight of stairs.
Mr Traore said the gunmen burst through security at the hotel entrance at 7:00am local time, spraying the area with gunfire and shouting “Allahu Akbar”, or “God is greatest” in Arabic.
Regular bedtime beneficial for heart and metabolic health among older adults
KATHMANDU — Sufficient sleep has been proven to help keep the body healthy and the mind sharp. But a new study on sleep patterns has suggested that a regular bedtime and wake time are just as important for heart and metabolic health among older adults too.
Researchers at Duke Health and the Duke Clinical Research Institute, in a study of 1,978 older adults, have found that people with irregular sleep patterns weighed more, had higher blood sugar, higher blood pressure, and a higher projected risk of having a heart attack or stroke within 10 years than those who slept and woke at the same times every day.
The study was published Sept 21 in the journal Scientific Reports.
“From our study, we can’t conclude that sleep irregularity results in health risks, or whether health conditions affect sleep,” said study’s lead author Jessica Lunsford-Avery.
“Perhaps all of these things are impacting each other.”
African-Americans had the most irregular sleep patterns compared to participants who were white, Chinese-American or Hispanic, the data showed.
Still, the data suggest tracking sleep regularity could help identify people at risk of disease, and where health disparities may impact specific groups.
Irregular sleepers were also more likely to report depression and stress than regular sleepers, both of which are tied to heart health.Follow @gorkhapost