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Mali Arrests Suspects In Last Week’s Deadly Terrorist Attack Against Bamako Hotel

Mali has arrested two suspects who may be tied to last week’s deadly terror attacks in the nation’s capital, Huffington Post reports.

On November 20, four to five gunmen stormed the Radisson Blu hotel, an upscale hotel in the West African nation’s capital, Bamako, at about 7 a.m. Shouting “Allahu Akbar!” (“God is great!”), the men rushed into the lobby of the hotel, firing their weapons indiscriminately, killing at least 22 people, including an American.

The gunmen also took 170 hostages; two hours later, Malian special forces raided the hotel, freeing the hostages and killing at least two of the suspected terrorists — although, as CNN reported, the terrorists may have blown themselves up. Despite the timing of the attacks, one week to the day after an ISIS-led terrorist attack in Paris killed 130 people and injured over 300, the Mali attacks were not associated with ISIS. Instead, three different groups claimed responsibility: al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI) (an African branch of al Qaeda), AQMI splinter group al Mourabitoun, and Massina Liberation Front (MLF). Malian security forces say the three groups may have been cooperating with each other.

On Thursday, Malian security forces arrested two suspects, according to Malian security ministry spokesperson Amadou Sangho.

“There are two suspects arrested.”

Sangho declined to identify the suspects.

Malian army spokesman Modibo Naman Traore gave a little more information about the suspects, saying that they were two men in their 30s who were arrested on the outskirts of Bamako.

“They were found after a phone at the scene was connected to both suspects.”

Security experts, analyzing the cell phone left at the scene of the attacks by one of the attackers, believe the suspects were providing support to the attackers. One suspect had been in contact with one of the attackers since August — the specifics regarding the contact have not been made clear — and other suspect is believed to have sent phone credit to the attacker.

Malian authorities have been interrogating the suspects since their arrest. A source within Malian security, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that they hope to determine what roles, if any, the suspects played in the attack.

“It’s only after questioning that we will find out if the second suspect sells phone credit or is an accomplice.”

The treatment the two suspects may experience during questioning may or may not be in accordance with international human rights protocols; in 2013, according to Russia Today, suspected jihadists in the Malian city of Timbuktu claimed they were subject to torture at the hands of Malian security forces. One suspect described being waterboarded.

“To force me to talk they poured 40 liters of water in my mouth and over my nostrils, which made it so that I could not breathe anymore. For a moment I thought I was actually going to die.”

Other suspects were beaten until their ribs broke, injected with caustic substances, and forced into crowded, poorly-ventilated rooms for days at a time, according to Human Rights Watch.

Since a 2012 military coup, Mali has been in a state of chaos, as members of various Islamist terror organizations have clashed with security forces over control of the largely desert nation. A French-led United Nations operation has attempted to bring stability to the region, with limited success. While Islamist militant groups have largely been drawn out of Mali’s major cities, they have regrouped in the desert.

[Photo by Baba Ahmed/AP Photo]