China on Saturday condemned an attack by Islamist militants on a hotel in Mali's capital city that killed 19 people, including three Chinese executives of a state-run railway firm.
Gunmen shouting Islamic slogans attacked the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on Friday, before Malian commandos stormed the building and freed 170 hostages.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei condemned the attack and expressed condolences. "The Mali government and the international community made active rescue efforts, but the thugs neglected human conscience and committed brutal and inhuman crimes," Hong said in a statement posted to the ministry's website. "China expresses indignation and strongly condemns this savage act," he said.
The three Chinese people killed were executives with China's state-owned China Railway Construction Corp, the company said. "China Railway Construction Corp. is deeply saddened by the deaths of the three employees, and we express our deep condolences to the families of the victims and strongly condemn the atrocities committed by the terrorists," it said in a statement on its website.
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 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.
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.
Chinese officials say the country faces a severe threat from Islamist separatists in its western Xinjiang region, where violence has left hundreds dead over the past three years.