Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Gunfire heard at Mali resort area popular with foreigners

"Security forces are in place".

"It is a jihadist attack. Campement Kangaba is blocked off and an operation is under way", security ministry spokesman Baba Cisse said by telephone.

"We were able to rescue around 36 guests and workers from the resort", including around 15 French nationals and a similar number of Malians, he added.

Mali's security minister says at least two people are dead after suspected jihadists attacked a popular resort on the outskirts of the capital.

"The U.S. Embassy informs U.S. citizens of a possible increased threat of attacks against Western diplomatic missions, places of worship, and other locations in Bamako where Westerners frequent". He said there were no French troops based in Bamako, but about 2,000 French troops were based in northern Mali fighting Islamic extremists.

Mali has been unstable for years, ever since an extremist uprising in northern Mali in 2012 put much of the country into the hands of Islamist and other rebel groups.

Mali's security minister later issued a statement confirming at least two deaths, one of which was a dual French-Gabonese citizen.

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An official in Macron's office said the president has been informed about the attack and he and his teams are following the evolving events.

Terrorists killed 19 people at the Radisson Blu in Bamako in 2015 in a siege where they took 170 hostages.

In March the same year, a grenade and gun attack on La Terrasse nightclub in Bamako killed five people, including foreigners.

Fears of terrorist attacks has pushed Mali to extend a state of emergency on several occasions.

The U.N. official said those at the resort when the attack began included people affiliated with the French military mission as well as the U.N. and European Union missions in the country.

Sunday's attack is the latest in a series of high-profile assaults in north and west Africa, targeting locals and tourists. About 30 people managed to escape though at least two people were killed as the assault continued into the evening, authorities said. "The special forces have now sealed off the perimeters of the site and are in the process of securing it".

The tourist complex is very popular among members of the United Nations Minusma multinational force stationed in Mali.

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