RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And let's take a step back now to see what details we can get on this breaking - fast-breaking story there in Bomako, Mali. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is following the details from London.
And what do you know at this moment in time? Security forces have begun a counter-assault. That's what we were hearing just a few minutes ago.
OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Indeed, and we are told that they have stormed - Malian security forces have stormed the Radisson Blu Hotel in this Sahara desert capital city, Bamako, which is on the River Niger, as Niek de Goeij was saying, though, the question is, which group might it be? And it could be any number of groups. Apparently, we're told - first we were told two gunmen and then now reports saying more, apparently in a vehicle with diplomatic license plates went into the hotel and started shooting, shouting Islamist slogans and then we were told that, floor-by-floor, started collecting hostages. But we're told that - and unconfirmed, Renee, but three hostages may have been killed, and between 10 and 20 have been released.
MONTAGNE: Now, we're talking about Malian security forces here. What are the chances that France will join in this?
QUIST-ARCTON: Oh, no doubt, no doubt. French troops - about a thousand are still here. And let me just give you the context for that. Because when the north of the country was occupied by these disparate Islamist groups and separatist groups, France moved in, and it was the French offensive that drove these groups out of their strongholds in the north. But there have since been hit-and-run guerrilla-type tactics. Mali remains insecure, and they're very mindful of what is going on in France. And during the Charlie Hebdo...
MONTAGNE: OK. All right. Ofeibea? Ofeibea, sorry, we're running out of time here. But we'll be on this later in the morning. That's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton speaking from London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.