Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote was in Mali but he is not one of the hostages held by jihadists at Radisson Blu Hotel, Bamako.
An earlier report by Al Jazeera said Dangote was staying at the hotel but it was unclear whether he was still there at the time of the attack. However, AFP bureau chief for Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Ghana Phil Hazlewood said he spoke to Dangote’s spokesman, who confirmed the business mogul was not at the hotel.
Just spoken to Aliko Dangote’s spokesman Anthony Chiejina. He says Dangote not at Radisson Blu hotel in Mali.
— Phil Hazlewood (@philhazlewood) November 20, 2015
A tweet by Al Jazeera’s West Africa Correspondent, Yvonne Ndege backs Hazlewood’s claim.
— Yvonne Ndege (@YvonneNdege) November 20, 2015
Dangote also tweeted about his whereabouts.
Rumour about me being held hostage is false. I was in Mali yesterday.Thank you for your concern. My prayers with those involved.
— Aliko Dangote (@AlikoDangote) November 20, 2015
Local media reported that Dangote was in Mali on a business and had been staying at the Radisson Blu. Dangote has many business interests across Africa. His cement company exports to Mali from its 1.5 mt plant in Pout, Senegal which began production last year.
Many high profile guests are believed to be lodging at the hotel when the jihadists struck. A Chinese national was also reported to have alerted a news agency in China via an app, that he is one of the hostages held at the hotel. US and French citizens were also reported to be among the hostages.
About 170 people are being held by jihadists at the hotel where automatic weapons were said to have been fired on this morning.
A statement by The Rezidor Hotel Group, which operates the Radisson Blu Hotel confirms the incident.
“[We are] aware of the hostage-taking that is ongoing at the property today, 20th November 2015. As per our information two persons have locked in 140 guests and 30 employees,” the company said.
However, some of the hostages at the 190-room luxury Radisson hotel are already being freed, according to reports. They include those able to recite verses of the Quran, security sources told Reuters.