Gunmen have stormed a tourist resort in Mali popular with Westerners and two people are dead, the country’s security minister has said.
Gunfire could be heard after up to four suspected jihadists took hostages at Le Campement Kangaba in Dougourakoro, near Mali’s capital Bamako.
A dual French-Gabonese citizen was among those killed.
Security Message: Ongoing attack at Hotel Kangaba “Le Campement” 30 min southeast of #Bamako, #Mali.
“At first we thought they were armed bandits but we know how armed bandits operate, they don’t hold territory, so now we think it is a terrorist attack”, Mali’s Security Minister Salif Traore told journalists outside the entrance to the resort late Sunday, part of which was on fire. They all had ties to al-Qaida; and claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack. “The situation is under control“, he added.
Late previous year, the U.S. State Department also warned U.S. citizens against traveling to Mali “because of ongoing terrorist attacks and criminal violence”.
French military spokesman Col. Patrik Steiger said he had “strictly no information” about French military involvement in the incident in Bamako.
Special forces and soldiers were at the scene to assess the impact of the attack, police spokesman Kali Diakite said by phone.
It was not immediately known how many guests were there at the time of the attack.
Mali’s army earlier said that one of the attackers was wounded and gave up his weapon. Security forces who battled the gunmen at the site were continuing Sunday evening to search for the assailants who fled.
The attack was blamed on terrorists but has not yet been claimed.
There are no French troops in the capital but approximately 2,000 are based in northern Mali fighting Islamic militants.
French troops and a 10,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force have been battling to stabilise Mali, a former French colony, ever since France intervened in 2013 to push back jihadists and allied Tuareg rebels who had taken over the country’s desert north a year earlier.
In March 2015, five people were killed, including two Westerners, in a restaurant attack in Bamako.
“The US Embassy informs US citizens of a possible increased threat of attacks against Western diplomatic missions, places of worship, and other locations in Bamako where Westerners frequent”.