Tuesday, 21 August, 2018

Gunfire heard at Mali resort area popular with foreigners

Ellis Copeland | 28 June, 2017, 04:49

A luxury resort popular with Western expatriates outside Mali's capital Bamako came under attack by gunmen on Sunday, the Security Ministry said.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the Malian victim worked for the European delegation in Bamako.

"Our partnership is very strong and will be consolidated, strengthened on the occasion of the Africa-EU summit this November", Mogherini said.

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".

At least four suspected jihadists have been placed in custody while four attackers were killed at the scene, Traore told AFP.

Mali's security minister later issued a statement confirming at least two deaths, one of which was a dual French-Gabonese citizen. United Nations peacekeepers and Malian troops are targeted nearly weekly by bombings and hit-and-run attacks in the north and increasingly in the center of the country.

Initially the country's security minister said one of the wounded attackers had managed to escape but on Monday officials said they had accounted for all the jihadists.

A week back, the U.S. embassy in Mali had issued an alert about heightened dangers for foreigners at popular spots in Bamako.

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"The anti-terrorist forces arrived on the scene immediately afterwards".

However shortly after noon they said the missing serviceman had been found. "I have no other words to say", the resort owner Manou Morgane, a French national, told Reuters TV overnight.

Mali has been fighting a jihadist insurgency for several years, with Islamist fighters roaming the country's north and centre.

The Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said the army had repelled an attack against a military post in Bamba in the north on Monday.

Sunday's violence came about a week after the USA state department warned of possible attacks on Western diplomatic missions and other locations in Bamako that Westerners frequent.

But jihadis have mounted numerous attacks on civilians and the army, as well as on French and United Nations forces still stationed there.

The unrest has continued despite a 2015 peace deal between the government and Tuareg-led rebels offering partial autonomy to the north.

Malian special forces, assisted by the Minusma blue helmets, have cordoned off the zone where the tourist complex is located, while the attackers seem to have taken refuge on a hill within the area.

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