Malian special forces have entered the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali's capital, Bamako, to end a siege by gunmen who had been holding170 people hostage.
The gunmen stormed the US-owned hotel, which is popular with foreign businesses and airline crews, shooting and shouting "God is great!" in Arabic.
Malian state TV is reporting that 80 people have now been freed.
At least three people are reported to have been killed in the siege that started around 07:00 GMT.
Among the other guests staying at the hotel are six Turkish Airlines staff, 20 Indian nationals and reports of up to 10 Chinese citizens.
The UN peacekeeping force said it was supporting the operation as Malian special forces are reported to be freeing hostages "floor by floor".
An Ivorian guest said she and six other people were escorted out by security forces as the gunmen rushed "toward the fifth or sixth floor".
"I think they are still there. I've left the hotel and I don't know where to go. I'm tired and in a state of shock," Monique Kouame Affoue Ekonde told the AP news agency.
Earlier, a security source told Reuters that some hostages who were able to recite verses of the Koran were being freed.
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
France, the former colonial power in Mali, intervened in the country in January 2013 when al-Qaeda-linked militants threatened to march on Bamako after taking control of the north of the country.
BBC Monitoring's Africa security correspondent Tomi Oladipo says the attack comes just days after Iyad Ag Ghaly, the leader of the Islamist militant group Ansar Dine, called for attacks on France and its interests in Mali.
His al-Qaeda-linked group was among those ousted from northern towns in 2013.
I spoke to a gardener at the hotel who was sweeping the yard when the gunmen arrived.
"They were in car with a diplomatic licence plate. They were masked. At the gate of the hotel, the guard stopped them and they start firing. We fled," he said.
Another eyewitness said that it was difficult to say how many attackers there were, he said it could have between five and 13.
"They injured three security guards who were at the gate of the hotel," he said.
Popular Guinean singer Sekouba Bambino was among some guests who has managed to get out of the hotel. It is not clear how he escaped.
He said: "I woke up with the sounds of gunshots and for me it sounded like small bandits. After 20 or 30 minutes, I realised these are not just petty criminals."