Vancouver mining executives trapped in their rooms as gunmen stormed Mali hotel – by Laura Kane (Canadian Press/Vancouver Province – November 22, 2015)

Two Vancouver businessmen hid silently in their rooms for seven hours as gunmen stormed their hotel in Mali, sending text messages describing the sounds of gunfire and grenades to horrified colleagues in Canada.

The B2Gold Corp. executives were in the Radisson Blu hotel in the capital Bamako when Islamist militants launched the attack Friday morning. Unable to talk on the phone or leave their rooms, the men spent all day reporting what they were hearing through texts and emails, said CEO Clive Johnson.

Johnson was supposed to be on the same trip but had to stay in Vancouver due to knee surgery complications. He was in constant communication with his coworkers, which meant staying up all night due to the time difference.

“It was surreal to be on that end of it and to think what they were going through, and that I would have been in the same situation,” he said.

The militants took about 170 hostages and killed 19 of them in the mass shooting, for which the jihadist group Al-Mourabitoun has claimed responsibility in co-operation with al-Qaida.

The executives were in the African country for a ground-breaking ceremony at the company’s Fekola mine, which is under construction. Luckily, the men hadn’t yet gone downstairs for breakfast at the restaurant, where the attack began.

Johnson said the company’s security advisors were instructing the two men and they spent much of the day either lying on the balcony or hiding in the bathrooms.

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