Dirco checking on South Africans in Mali gun battle

Jenni Evans

Johannesburg - The Department of International Relations is trying to get more information from Mali on reports that South Africans may be caught up in a gun battle at a hotel in the west African country.

''The South African embassy is talking to authorities in the affected region in Mali,'' International Relations spokesperson Nelson Kgwete said.

They are still waiting for feedback on the sudden development around the hotel Byblos in the Sevare desert region of the country.

In the meantime, concerned friends or relatives can call the department's 24-hour operations room on 012-351-1000.

Kgwete also tweeted: ''We are aware of the situation in Mali. The SA embassy is liaising with authorities. No further details at this point.''

According to Reuters, the hotel is 600km northeast of the capital Bamako.

The agency reported that the body of a white male victim was visible in front of the hotel, and two Malian soldiers were killed and three wounded in a firefight.

An attacker strapped with explosives was also killed, military spokesperson Souleymane Dembele said in a text message.

Dembele said an east European and three other personnel from the Minusma peacekeeping operation were believed to have escaped from the hotel. Nationals from South Africa, France and Ukraine had been in the hotel, he said.

There were also five hostage takers reportedly in the building.

Source: http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Dirco-checking-on-South-Africans-...