Suspected Islamist gunmen were holding as many as 10 hostages on Friday after carrying out a deadly attack on a hotel in central Mali used by United Nations staff, Malian army and defense spokesmen said.
"The armed men have withdrawn inside the hotel and have taken the people inside hostage. The army is looking for a solution," army spokesman Colonel Souleymane Maiga said.
The death toll from the attack and ensuing firefight had risen to five soldiers and three militants, he added. A defense ministry spokesman said up to ten hostages were believed to be held inside.