Mali deepens probe into deadly attack on luxury hotel

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Mali said on Sunday that investigators were following "several leads" after 19 people were killed in an attack on a luxury hotel claimed by three Islamist militant groups.

Islamist militants' most deadly strike on the West African country in years ended on Friday when Malian commandos stormed the Radisson Blue hotel in the capital, Bamako, after an eight-hour siege and freed 170 hostages.

SEE ALSO: Belgium police arrest 16, Paris fugitive still at large

But two days after the attack, little more has been revealed on the identity of the attackers.

On Sunday, the Massina Liberation Front, which has been blamed for previous attacks in southern Mali, became the third group to claim responsibility for the siege. Al Mourabitoun and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI) already had claimed responsibility.

"Several leads are being followed. The hotel that was attacked is being combed through carefully," according to a statement on state television.

A Malian intelligence agent said 13 foreigners were killed in the attack, including six Russians, three Chinese, two Belgians, an American and a Senegalese.

Israeli media had earlier reported one dead, but the Malian source was not able to confirm the information.

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Mali deepens probe into deadly attack on luxury hotel
Police tape cordons off the street of the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 21, 2015, a day after the deadly jihadist siege at the luxury hotel. Investigators in Mali were on November 21 hunting at least three people suspected of links to the jihadist siege that left at least 19 people dead. The government has declared a state of emergency after the bloody nine-hour hostage-taking at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 20, exactly a week after the Paris massacre. AFP PHOTO / HABIBOU KOUYATE (Photo credit should read HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of special forces checks under a car parked outside the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 20, 2015, after the assault of security forces. Malian forces backed by French troops stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in the capital Bamako after suspected Islamist gunmen seized guests and staff in a nine-hour hostage crisis that left at least 18 people dead. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the 'horrific terrorist attack' on November 20, and indicated the violence was aimed at destroying peace efforts in the country. AFP PHOTO / HABIBOU KOUYATE (Photo credit should read HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of special forces are seen inside the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 20, 2015, after the assault of security forces. Suspected Islamist gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Mali's capital on November 20, firing automatic weapons and seizing more than 100 guests and staff in a hostage-taking that has left at least 22 people dead. AFP PHOTO / HABIBOU KOUYATE (Photo credit should read HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/Getty Images)
Picture taken of a room at the Radisson Blu hotel on November 21, 2015, the day after the deadly jihadist siege at the luxury hotel in the capital Bamako. Investigators in Mali were on November 21 hunting at least three people suspected of links to the jihadist siege that left at least 19 people dead. The government has declared a state of emergency after the bloody nine-hour hostage-taking at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 20, exactly a week after the Paris massacre. AFP PHOTO / HABIBOU KOUYATE (Photo credit should read HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/Getty Images)
Malian troops take position near the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 20, 2015. Gunmen went on a shooting rampage at the luxury hotel in Mali's capital Bamako, seizing 170 guests and staff in an ongoing hostage-taking that has left at least three people dead. AFP PHOTO / HABIBOU KOUYATE (Photo credit should read HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/Getty Images)
Malian troops take position outside the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 20, 2015. Gunmen went on a shooting rampage at the luxury hotel in Mali's capital Bamako, seizing 170 guests and staff in an ongoing hostage-taking that has left at least three people dead. AFP PHOTO / HABIBOU KOUYATE (Photo credit should read HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/Getty Images)
Malian security forces evacuate two women from an area surrounding the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 20, 2015. Gunmen went on a shooting rampage at the luxury hotel in Mali's capital Bamako, seizing 170 guests and staff in an ongoing hostage-taking that has left at least three people dead. AFP PHOTO / HABIBOU KOUYATE (Photo credit should read HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/Getty Images)
Malian troops take position outside the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 20, 2015. Gunmen went on a shooting rampage at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital Bamako, seizing 170 guests and staff in an ongoing hostage-taking, the hotel chain said. AFP PHOTO / SEBASTIEN RIEUSSEC (Photo credit should read Sebastien RIEUSSEC/AFP/Getty Images)
Malian security forces escort a hostage freed from the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 20, 2015. Gunmen went on a shooting rampage at the luxury hotel in Mali's capital Bamako, seizing 170 guests and staff in an ongoing hostage-taking that has left at least three people dead. AFP PHOTO / HABIBOU KOUYATE (Photo credit should read HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/Getty Images)
Malian security forces prepare to transport hostages freed from the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 20, 2015. Gunmen went on a shooting rampage at the luxury hotel in Mali's capital Bamako, seizing 170 guests and staff in an ongoing hostage-taking that has left at least three people dead. AFP PHOTO / HABIBOU KOUYATE (Photo credit should read HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/Getty Images)
Malian security forces take position near the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 20, 2015. Gunmen went on a shooting rampage at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital Bamako, seizing 170 guests and staff in an ongoing hostage-taking, the hotel chain said. AFP PHOTO / SEBASTIEN RIEUSSEC (Photo credit should read Sebastien RIEUSSEC/AFP/Getty Images)
Malian troops take position outside the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 20, 2015. Gunmen went on a shooting rampage at the luxury hotel in Mali's capital Bamako, seizing 170 guests and staff in an ongoing hostage-taking that has left at least three people dead. AFP PHOTO / HABIBOU KOUYATE (Photo credit should read HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/Getty Images)
Around 10 gunmen have stormed a hotel in #Mali and taken 170 hostages https://t.co/jORlDVglFu (Pic:Malikahere) https://t.co/QjhcILBe5F
'10 gunmen storm luxury hotel in Mali taking 170 hostage and shouting 'Allahu Akbar' https://t.co/Qn7ZPTFRLl https://t.co/Qso9tortWf
SECURITY MESSSAGE (1/4) The Embassy is aware of an ongoing active shooter operation at the Radisson Hotel.
SECURITY MESSAGE (2/4) The U.S. Embassy staff has been asked to shelter in place. All U.S. citizens should shelter in place.
SECURITY MESSAGE (3/4) Private U.S. citizens are encouraged to contact their families.
SECURITY MSG 4/4 Monitor local media for updates. US citizens should adhere to the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media
La fusillade au Radisson de Bamako semble sérieuse. Suivre la situation de près. #Aqmi #Barkhan #IBK https://t.co/Qq5PX932nm
170 people are locked in by attackers at the upscale Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali. More on #BBCAfricaLive https://t.co/E8xbSUURRv
#BREAKING: #Mali: at least 5 dead, hostages taken, inc. foreigners, in Terror attack at Radisson hotel in #Bamako https://t.co/82qSWYQppZ
170 hostages being held by jihadist gunmen inside #Mali hotel https://t.co/LLT5k13YQS
Breaking News: More than 150 hostages have been taken at a Radisson Hotel in Bamako, Mali https://t.co/eNHzM4qEDa
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President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has said that both gunmen involved in the attack were killed at the hotel were killed, although an eye witness had previously said there was at least one additional attacker.

Former colonial power France is assisting with the probe and has sent in a team of elite investigators to assist.

The bloodshed in Bamako is the latest sign of deepening insecurity in the West African country. Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda seized the desert north in 2012 but were scattered by a French military operation a year later.

However, 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 in August, killing at least 12 people in an attack similar to Friday's.

Mali, along with neighbors across the 15-nation West African ECOWAS regional block, will begin three days of national mourning on Monday.

Senegalese President Macky Sall, the current chairman of ECOWAS, arrived in Bamako on Sunday to express condolences and vowed to help Mali fight terrorism.

"Mali will never be alone," Sall said. "We stand together with Mali and together we will lead the fight."

(Reporting by Adama Diarra and Joe Penney; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Paul Simao)

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