Resort outside Bamako frequented by foreigners under attack
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Gunmen on Sunday attacked a luxury resort popular with Western expatriates just outside Mali’s capital, killing three foreigners, a Malian civilian and a soldier in what the security minister called a terrorist attack, while 36 guests were rescued.
Malian security forces killed four militants involved in the attack on Le Campement Kangaba resort east of Bamako, the country’s Security Minister Salif Traore said on Monday.
According to the minister, a Chinese man, a Portuguese man, a Gabonese national and a Malian were among the victims.
At least four attack suspects have been detained while five attackers were killed at the scene.
“This was without doubt a terrorist attack,” Traore told FRANCE 24's sister station Radio France International. “The anti-terrorist forces arrived on the scene immediately afterwards. Five terrorists were killed ... The operations continued throughout the night.”
Traore said the militants had some accomplices who had not been killed or detained.
Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists on Monday claimed responsibility for the attack.
Malian security forces backed by French troops were deployed to push out the attackers, who reportedly arrived on motorbikes and stormed the resort, which foreign residents visit for weekend breaks.
“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,” Traore told journalists late Sunday outside the entrance to the resort, part of which was on fire.
Malian security forces, United Nations peacekeeping mission vehicles and French military armoured vehicles surrounded the resort, according to a Reuters witness. A helicopter circled overhead.
Security has gradually worsened across Mali since French forces pushed back Islamist and Tuareg rebel fighters in 2013 from swathes of the north they had occupied the previous year.
Initially concentrated in the desert north, attacks have increasingly struck the centre and south, around Bamako. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and another militant group claimed responsibility for an attack on a Bamako hotel in 2015 in which 20 people were killed.
Of the 36 people who escaped unharmed, there were 13 French citizens, 14 Malians, and also Spanish, Dutch, Egyptian and Kenyan nationals, Traore said.
Daniel Okwogo, a Kenyan guest who witnessed the attack, said that about 30 minutes after his arrival he heard the gunshots. “So ... we took a cover, slipped under the bed and then the security team came and evacuated us,” Okwogo said.
Witness Boubacar Sangare was just outside the compound during the attack. “Westerners were fleeing the encampment while two plainclothes police exchanged fire with the assailants,” he said.
French troops and a 10,000-strong UN peacekeeping force have battled to stabilise Mali, a former French colony riven by ethnic conflict and plagued by dozens of armed groups.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)