Mali’s Security Ministry gas said that two people suspected of having links to the hostage crisis at the Radisson Blu hotel in the country's capital city Bamako earlier this month have been arrested.
The ministry’s spokesman Amadou Sangho confirmed the arrests on Thursday, without giving further information about the identities and the alleged roles of the suspects in the attack on the luxury hotel.
The suspects have been brought in for questioning after finding evidence related to the suspects on one of the attacker’s mobile phones. One of the suspects had purchased telephone credit for one or some of the attackers.
The other suspect had been under police surveilance since August.
"It's only after questioning that we will find out if the second suspect sells phone credit or is an accomplice," said the source, requesting anonymity.
Armed men took 170 hostages on November 20, including guests and staff, in an attack that killed 22 people, including 14 foreigners. Two attackers were also killed during the police raid, while nine people were wounded.
Security Minister Salif Traore said on Thursday that there were only two attackers armed with Kalashnikov rifles.
Security sources said the attack began with gunfire from automatic weapons heard from outside the 190-room hotel, where security forces set up a security cordon.
"They opened fire from the entrance of the hotel, in the lobby, the restaurant, various corridors. They fired on people indiscriminately," he said in the parliament.
The Al Qaeda affiliated al Mourabitoun group took responsibility for the hotel attack. The group is lead by a man of Algerian descent named Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
The Macina Liberation Front (LWF), which is also affiliated with al Qaeda, also claimed responsibility for the raid.
The attack came amid a deterioration in the security situation in the country just two years after a French-led military operation to suppress militants who briefly occupied the desert north.
French troops and a 10,000-strong UN peacekeeping force (MINUSMA) are struggling to stabilise the former French colony and strikes on both Malian and Western targets have spread further south and far beyond traditional militant strongholds.
The US embassy in Bamako has warned of the possibility of "further terrorist activity in the capital" and advised its citizens to avoid bars, restaurants and shopping centres.
Since the Radisson hotel attack, Malian forces have begun night patrols alongside UN forces and searched several private residences as part of a package of emergency measures.