Casualties and hostages reported in attack on Mali resort popular with foreign tourists

Casualties and hostages reported in attack on Mali resort popular with foreign tourists

Suspected jihadists in Mali's capital have attacked a resort that is popular with foreigners on the weekends, a security official says.

The official with the UN mission known as MINUSMA, said people had been killed and wounded but gave no immediate toll.

There also were believed to be hostages in the luxury Campement de Kangaba resort area.

Officials from the French military mission in Mali, the European Union and the UN also were there this weekend, he added.

Sunday's violence came about a week after the US State Department warned of "possible future attacks on Western diplomatic missions, other locations in Bamako that Westerners frequent".

"I heard gunfire coming from the camp and I saw people running out of the tourist site," said Modibo Diarra, who lives nearby.

"I learned that it was a terrorist attack."

Malian soldiers succeeded in entering the site, according to Commandant Modibo Traore, a spokesman for the Malian special forces in the former French colony.

"The operation is ongoing and we estimate that there are between three and four assailants," he said.

The French president's office, the defence minister's office and the French military would not comment immediately on the attack or on media reports saying that French forces are intervening.

The French Foreign Ministry would not say whether any French citizens were hurt or otherwise involved in the attack in the West African country.

French military spokesman Col Patrik Steiger said he had "strictly no information" about French military involvement in the incident in Bamako.

He said there are no French troops based in Bamako, but about 2,000 French troops based in northern Mali fighting Islamic extremists.

France intervened in Mali in 2013 to oust Islamic extremists who had seized control of the major northern towns the year before.

While the militants were officially ousted, they have continued to launch regular attacks on UN peacekeeping and Malian military sites.

Religious extremism in Mali once was limited to northern areas, although in recent years the jihadists have spread violence farther south, including a devastating attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako in November 2015.

That attack left 20 dead - six Malians and 14 foreigners.

AP

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