Mali TV airs images of man, woman suspected in hotel attack

Authorities in Mali published photographs on Monday of a man and a woman they said helped plan last week's Islamist militant assault on a luxury hotel in the capital Bamako.
The pictures aired on state television were the first indication that authorities were seeking accomplices to Friday's attack on the Radisson Blu hotel that killed 20 people and ended when commandos stormed the building and killed two gunmen.
"They are suspects – people suspected of having links with the two terrorists (who attacked the hotel)," a source close to the West African state's security ministry told Reuters.
The bloodshed in Bamako, a week after Islamic State attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, underlined deepening insecurity in Mali and the difficulties French and UN peacekeeping forces are having in stabilizing the former French colony.
The 10,000-member UN force, MINUSMA, said on Monday that 20 civilians and two militants died in the attack, raising the toll from 19 civilians reported earlier by the government.
Chief prosecutor Boubacar Sidiki Samake, heading the investigation, said authorities had recovered mobile phones and machine pistols from the bodies of the two militants that will help them understand how the attack was conceived.
The Massina Liberation Front, blamed for previous violence in southern Mali, on Sunday became the third group to claim responsibility for the hotel attack.
Jihadist group Al Mourabitoun and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) had already declared they had carried out a joint operation against the Radisson Blu hotel.
The al-Akhbar news agency of neighboring Mauritania said it received an audio message in Arabic from Al Mourabitoun in which the group named two of its men it said staged the attack.
The message said the men died after providing "stiff resistance" and called for further "resistance to the aggression of crusaders on the mujahideen of Mali". It was not immediately possible to verify the message's content.
The Radisson Blu is a favorite of foreign visitors to Mali; six Russians, three Chinese, two Belgians, an American, Israeli and a Senegalese citizen were among those killed by the gunmen.
Islamist militants linked to Al-Qaeda seized the desert north of Mali in 2012 following a separatist uprising but were scattered by a French military operation the following year.
Jihadists have stepped up attacks this year on Western and Malian targets beyond their traditional desert bases. In August, they stormed a hotel in central Mali, killing at least 12 people in an attack similar to Friday's.

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