Special forces have stormed a hotel in Malian capital Bamako in an attempt to end a siege by gunmen.
As many as ten attackers are holding 170 people hostage at the Radisson Blu Hotel in the city.
The property is popular with international business travellers, flight crews and Malian visitors.
Reports suggest the gunmen entered the property at 07:00 GMT this morning shouting “God is great!” in Arabic.
Malian state TV is reporting that 80 people have now been freed.
Air France says 12 of its crew have been successfully freed in the rescue operation.
The US Rezidor Hotel Group, which owns the Radisson Blu, said in a statement 140 guests and 30 employees were locked in the property.
The UN force in Mali took over responsibility for security in the country from French and African troops in July 2013.
In August, suspected Islamist gunmen killed 13 people, including five UN workers, during a hostage siege at a hotel in the central Malian town of Sevare.