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Gunmen attack, seize hostages at luxury resort in Mali

Police in Mali said four gunmen had attacked the luxury Campement Kangaba resort east of the capital. Two victims and three of the assailants have been killed while one attacker escaped.

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Gunmen attack Mali resort

Gunfire rang out at the Campement Kangaba on the outskirts of Bamako on Sunday afternoon, according to a security official with the UN mission known as MINUSMA. The assault continued into the evening, according to local reports.

Four gunmen arrived at the resort on motorbikes and in a car, according to Mali's Security Minister Salif
Traore. "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," he said.

"We're now in the process of combing the area to verify no one is hiding anywhere," Traore said.

The security ministry later issued a statement confirming at least two people had died, one of them was a dual French-Gabonese citizen.

Director of the national police, Moussa Ag Infahi said three of the attackers had been killed but one had escaped.

Local resident Modibo Traore described what he witnessed: "I heard gunfire coming from the camp and I saw people running out of the tourist site." There were reports one gunman arrived on a motorcycle before jumping off and running towards the resort's pool area.

Residents reported hearing shots fired and people fleeing as smoke billowed into the air.

French military spokesman Col. Patrik Steiger said he had "strictly no information" about French military involvement in the incident at the Campement Kangaba. He said there were no French troops based in Bamako, but about 2,000 French troops were based in northern Mali fighting Islamic extremists.

Two attacks in two days

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which came during the final week of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. People in the predominantly Muslim country have been fasting from sunrise to sunset for the past three weeks.

It's the second deadly attack in the West African country in as many days. At least five soldiers were killed during a jihadist attack on a military base in the north of the country Saturday.

Many militant groups

Several Jihadist groups have been waging insurgencies in Mali for several years. Islamist fighters are present in the north and center of the country.

In November 2015 gunmen seized the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako. Some 20 people were killed in that attack, including 14 foreigners. Germany has considered sending troops to the strife-torn country.

In 2012, Mali's north was seized by jihadi groups linked to al Qaeda whose fighters hijacked a rebel uprising by ethnic Tuaregs.

A French military operation in January 2013 ousted the Islamist rebels but jihadists continue to mount frequent attacks on civilians and the Malian army, as well as on French and UN forces present in the country.

bik/jm (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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