The security situation in Mali has been on a steady decline since 2013, after French forces pushed back armed Toeareg rebels and other extremists, who managed to capture large parts of the country in 2012.
A Malian soldier and three civilians – a Chinese citizen, a Malian, and a French-Gabonese dual national – also were slain in the worst terror attack to strike Bamako since late 2015. A security source said a third victim was Cameroonian while the fourth had yet to be identified.
Malian troops and soldiers from France’s Bakhane counter-terrorist force are at the site.
“This was without doubt a terrorist attack”, Security Minister Salif Traore told Radio France International.
Since then, jihadists have continued to mount numerous attacks on civilians and the army, as well as on French and United Nations forces stationed there.
He said 36 mostly French and Malian hostages were freed following the incident at the Kangaba Le Campement resort on Sunday afternoon.
Boubacar Sangare, who was just outside the compound during the attack, said: “Westerners were fleeing the encampment while two plainclothes police exchanged fire with the assailants”. AQIM claimed the assault, saying the gunmen were from the Al-Murabitoun group of Algerian extremist Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
The Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said the army had repelled an attack against a military post in Bamba in the north on Monday.
The group, also known as Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimeen in Arabic, said the attackers were from the Fula ethnic group and battled for “many hours” at the popular eco-lodge near Bamako, which it termed a site of “debauchery”.
His ministry’s statement added that authorities had killed four attackers and arrested five others.
“One thing is sure: They are becoming more responsive”, said Adam Thiam, a Malian analyst and expert on the conflict.
“The operation is ongoing”, he said, estimating there were three or four assailants.
French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to the leader of Mali after the attack and pledged France’s full support for the country, Macron’s office stated on Monday.
The Portuguese military says one of its soldiers on a European Union training mission in Mali has died in what it called a terrorist attack.
“I am exhausted, shocked”.
“We are in the process of confirming the other’s nationality”. “All I want to do is to see the list of my clients”.
However shortly after noon they said the missing serviceman had been found.