Two people are dead after a luxury resort outside Mali’s capital Bamako came under attack by gunmen on Sunday.
“The victim was a Portuguese colleague who was part of the European Union’s training mission in Bamako“, Federica Mogherini told a news conference at the end of an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg.
Malian special forces, backed by United Nations troops and French counter-terrorism force, rushed to the spot to free the hostages and end the siege.
“France condemns with utmost firmness this murderous attack”, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that Malian and French authorities were “continuing their checks to determine the possible presence of French nationals among the victims”.
Baba Cisse, a spokesman for Mali’s security ministry, confirmed that one of those killed was a “French-Gabonese citizen”.
In November 2015, gunmen took guests and staff hostage at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako in a siege that left at least 20 people dead, including 14 foreigners.
Three foreigners, a Malian civilian and a Malian soldier were killed in the latest high-profile assault in north and west Africa targeting locals and tourists, including in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.
That attack was jointly claimed by both the regional al-Qaida affiliate and a group known as Al Mourabitoun, which was founded by extremist Moktar Belmoktar after he fell out with al-Qaida leaders.
The resort was cordoned off on Monday morning as a Malian anti-terrorist squad combed the area for the missing person, a witness said.
Security Minister Salif Traore said Monday that forces pursued and killed the fourth attacker who had initially escaped.
But analysts said security forces appeared to have responded quicker this time than in previous such attacks.
“When I saw the terrorists, I immediately showed clients an opening where they could hide themselves”, said Lancina Traore, describing the vast site where the lodge is situated.
Sunday’s violence came about a week after the U.S. state department warned of possible attacks on Western diplomatic missions and other locations in Bamako that Westerners frequent.
The unrest has continued despite a 2015 peace deal between the government and Tuareg-led rebels offering partial autonomy to the north.
Aside, Mali, the 3,000-strong force is fighting insurgents in the entire Sahel region comprising Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mauritania.
But Washington says the resolution is too vague.