The siege of a hotel in central Mali ended Saturday morning, when Malian special forces backed by French soldiers stormed the building, freeing four hostages held there by gunmen for almost 24 hours, a defense spokesperson said.
"It seems to be over and it has ended well," said Colonel Diaran Kone. "We freed the four hostages. But unfortunately we also found three bodies at the site."
The official did not give the nationalities of the freed hostages or the dead. At least six people were killed by the assailants, five of which were government soldiers, as well as one employee of Mali's U.N. peacekeeping mission, Reuters reports.
Gunmen swept through the town of Sevare on motorbikes early Friday before attacking the Byblos Hotel, popular with U.N. workers.
The attackers initially managed to hold off attempts to dislodge them, although three of them, one strapped with explosives, were also killed.
It is not yet known who is responsible for the hostage-taking, but Islamist militants have claimed responsibility for other recent attacks in the south and centre of Mali.