China condemns Mali attack with three Chinese among the dead

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping condemned on Saturday the “cruel and savage” attack by Islamist militants on a hotel in Mali’s capital that killed 19 people including three executives from a Chinese railway company.

Gunmen shouting Islamic slogans attacked the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on Friday, before Malian commandos stormed the building and freed 170 hostages, many of them foreigners.

Xi called for the relevant departments to boost security work “outside China’s borders”.

“China will strengthen cooperation with the international community, resolutely crack down on violent terrorist operations that devastate innocent lives and safeguard world peace and security,” the Foreign Ministry quoted him as saying in a statement on its website.

The three Chinese citizens killed in the hotel attack were executives from the state-owned China Railway Construction Corp 601186.SS, the company said in a statement on its website.

“China Railway Construction Corp is deeply saddened by the deaths of the three employees, and we express our deep condolences to the victims’ families and strongly condemn the atrocities committed by the terrorists,” it said.

Zhou Tianxiang and Wang Xuanshang, general manager and deputy general manager of the company’s international division, and Chang Xuehui, general manager of its West Africa division, were killed, the statement said.

The Foreign Ministry said four other Chinese nationals were among the rescued hostages.

The attack on the hotel was claimed by jihadist group Al Mourabitoun and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and is the latest in a series of deadly raids this year in Mali, which has battled Islamist rebels based in its desert north for years.

China vowed this week to bring to justice those responsible for killing one of its citizens after Islamic State said it had killed a Chinese captive.

A man who worked for a Belgian regional parliament and an American aid worker were also killed. Moscow said Russians were also among the victims.

Beijing has repeatedly denounced Islamist militants and urged the world to step up coordination in combating Islamic State, though it has been reluctant to get involved on the ground in Syria and Iraq where the group largely operates.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Nick Macfie and Helen Popper