On Friday morning, gunmen stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako, taking hostage 170 people, many of them foreign guests.
The assault finally ended, but left at least 27 people dead and six others injured, according to officials.
22 military and civilian US Defense Department personnel were in Bamako, including five at the hotel at the time of the incident, a US defense official said, adding everyone was accounted for and there were no reports of injuries.
One US servicemember, who was outside, entered the hotel to help first responders move civilians to secure locations, while Malian forces were clearing the hotel of the gunmen, the official noted.
However, he said US forces did not have any direct participation in the operation.
According to the official, another US servicemember helped at the Joint Operations Center, set up to respond to the attack.
Following the rescue operation, a further six US citizens were recovered by security forces, according to the US Africa Command.
White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement on Friday that the United States is ready to help the Malian government to investigate the “tragic” assault.
“We are prepared to assist the Malian government in the coming days as it investigates this tragic terrorist attack,” Price said.
The attack began about 7 a.m., when two or three attackers carrying AK-47 rifles got off at least one vehicle with diplomatic plates and entered the hotel while firing their guns.
According to an agency used by terrorists in the region, Al-Qaeda group and its offshoot al-Murabitoun carried out the attack.
The Mali attack happened one week after a series of terrorist attacks by Daesh terrorists left 130 dead and 352 others injured in Paris, France.