Six Americans have been recovered from the luxury hotel in Bamako, Mali, where armed Islamist militants took hostages on Friday, U.S. officials said, adding that U.S. special forces assisted in the rescue efforts.
Representatives for U.S. Africa Command said American military personnel were helping move civilians to safety as Malian forces cleared the Radisson Blu hotel in the country's capital, Bamako.
"Mali forces have the lead in Bamako," Africa Command said in a tweet. "Small team of U.S. troops assisting with relocating rescued hostages."
Army Colonel Mark Cheadle, a spokesman for Africa Command, said six Americans were recovered from the hotel and he believed all were alive.
Another defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said five U.S. Defense Department personnel were at the hotel at the time of the siege and all have been accounted for. "We have no reports of any injuries," the official said.
One U.S. service member "who was at the location stepped in to assist first responders with moving civilians from the hotel to secure locations as Malian forces worked to clear the hotel of hostile gunmen," the official said. "U.S. forces did not directly participate in the operation."
The total number of U.S. citizens at the hotel during the siege was unclear.
In all, the defense official said, 22 military and civilian Pentagon employees were in Bamako at the time of the attack and all have been accounted for.
About 1,000 U.S. special forces are deployed across Africa at any given time.
Gunmen shouting Islamic slogans attacked the Radisson Blu, which is frequented by foreigners, early on Friday morning, taking 170 people hostage. At least 27 people were reported dead after Malian commandos stormed the hotel and dozens of people were reported to have escaped or been freed.
A Malian official told French television station BFMTV that all remaining hostages were safe and out of the hotel.
The U.S. military was providing airlift support and aerial reconnaissance support to French forces in Mali under a 2013 agreement, Africa Command said.
U.S. President Barack Obama, who is attending a regional summit in Malaysia, was briefed by his national security adviser on the Bamako situation, a White House official said on Friday.