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Two people have “locked in” 140 guests and 30 employees in an ongoing hostage-taking at the Radisson Blu hotel in the Malian capital Bamako, the hotel chain said in a statement on Friday.

“The Rezidor Hotel Group… is 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,” said the company.

“Our safety and security teams and our corporate team are in constant contact with the local authorities in order to offer any support possible to re-instate safety and security at the hotel,” it added in a statement released in London.

The company is based in the United States. Security sources in Mali said jihadists had launched a shooting rampage in the 190-room hotel and automatic weapons fire could be heard from outside the building.

Islamist groups have continued to wage attacks in Mali despite a June peace deal between former Tuareg rebels in the north of the country and rival pro-government armed groups. (AFP)