Eighty hostages have been freed from the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako amid a special forces operation, according to the State broadcaster.

At least three hostages have died in the attack on the luxury hotel where gunmen took 170 people hostage early on Friday morning.

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Malian special forces have entered the hotel and about 50 French counter-terrorism officers are en route from Paris to Bamako. A spokesman for the service said they are heading from two different units of special police forces trained for emergency situations.

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It is understood the gunmen entered the hotel shouting “Allahu Akbar” — “God is great” in Arabic at 7am on Friday and have moved floor by floor through the building.

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The Irish Defence Forces have confirmed that the 10 personnel in Mali are “safe and accounted for”.