MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Friday, several unidentified armed men attacked a small private hotel used by United Nations staff in the city of Sevare, some 370 miles northeast of the capital of Mali, Bamako, and took hostages.
The siege was ended on Saturday after Malian Special Forces backed by French soldiers stormed the hotel building.
Media reports suggested that at least thirteen bodies were recovered by the Malian armed forces in the aftermath of the attack.
The dead included hotel staff, some of the alleged gunmen, as well as the Malian soldiers and UN contractors.
No organization or insurgent group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
At least three of the gunmen, as well as as five Malian soldiers were said to have been killed in the attack.
Reuters reported that Russian, Ukrainian and South African nationals had been killed in the attack. Later, the South African and Ukrainian Foreign Ministries confirmed the reports.
The Ukrainian foreign ministry specified that four of its nationals were caught up in the attack, one of whom was killed, and one managed to escape the gunmen.
However, the Russian Embassy in Mali said the victims of the hotel siege did not include Russian nationals.
The UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) confirmed in a statement that five of the mission-associated personnel — two Ukrainians, a Nepalese, a South African and a Malian — died in the siege.
It added that four hostages — two South Africans, a Russian and an Ukrainian — were rescued and registered in "good health."
Over the past year, the number of assaults, including rocket attacks, suicide bombings and land mines causing injuries and casualties among UN peacekeepers in Mali soared dramatically.
Mali, a French colony until 1960, has been in turmoil since a 2012 military coup, after which separatist tribes seized control over vast territories in northern Mali, and later, various Islamist groups started to operate in the country.
The UN Mission has been present in the African country since 2013, and has sent 10,000 peacekeepers there to carry out security-related issues and protect civilians from violence.