U.S. special forces were assisting in a hostage recovery operation at a Mali hotel Friday after multiple gunmen held 170 people inside the Radisson Blu in Bamako.
BBC reported that a Pentagon official said that the special forces were "currently assisting hostage recovery efforts." French special forces were also helping free hostages from the Radisson Blu, which is a popular hotel with foreigners. The U.N. peacekeeping force was also helping the operation.
The Department of Defense official estimated that approximately 25 military personnel were present in Bamako when the attack occurred and that some were assisting "with moving civilians to secured locations while Malian forces clear the hotel of hostile gunmen."
As many as 10 gunmen were involved in the attack, storming the hotel while firing guns and yelling "God is great" in Arabic, USA Today reported. Three people were reportedly killed when the gunmen overtook the hotel.
The attackers took 170 individuals hostage, and special forces have since been freeing the people "floor by floor," according to a Malian army commander.
The U.S. Embassy in Mali recommended that U.S. citizens stay inside or "shelter in place" as the hostage situation was ongoing at the hotel.
According to a U.S. official, at least six Americans were safely freed from the hotel, according to the Associated Press.
An al Qaeda-linked group based in Mali, al-Mourabitoun, has claimed responsibility for the attack on social media.
UPDATE 12:23 P.M.: At least 27 people were killed in the hotel attack Friday, Reuters reported.