The company that runs the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali's capital says assailants have taken 170 hostages in a brazen assault involving grenades.
The Brussels-based Rezidor Hotel group said the assailants had "locked in" 140 guests and 30 employees.
Malian army commander Modibo Nama Traore said 10 gunmen stormed the hotel Friday morning shouting "Allahu Akbar" or "God is great" in Arabic before firing on the guards and taking hostages.
The U.S. and French embassies asked their citizens to take shelter where they are in Bamako.
Following a military coup in 2012, Islamic extremists took control of northern Mali, prompting a French-led military intervention in early 2013. The extremists were scattered from northern towns and cities, though the north remains insecure and militant attacks have extended south this year.