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Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Malian government says ‘situation is under control’ at Le Campement resort east of capital after reports of gunshots and rising smoke
Flames rise following an attack where gunmen stormed Le Campement Kangaba resort in Dougourakoro, to the east of the Malian capital Bamako. Photograph: Reuters Tv/Reuters
At least two people have been killed after a tourist resort near Bamako, the capital of Mali, was attacked. A spokesman for the country’s security ministry said one of the dead was a French national but the nationality of the other person killed was not known.
Malian troops and soldiers from France’s Barkhane counter-terrorism force were called to Le Campement in Dougourakoro, a resort popular with westerners east of Bamako. Residents nearby reported hearing shots fired while smoke billowed into the air.
At least 32 people were rescued and 14 others injured, the security ministry said.
“Security forces are in place. Campement Kangaba is blocked off and an operation is under way,” said a security ministry spokesman, Baba Cisse. “The situation is under control.”
Moussa Ag Infahi, director of the national police, saidthat three of the assailants had been killed while a fourth escaped.
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. “There were four national police vehicles and French soldiers in armoured vehicles on the scene.” He added that a helicopter was circling overhead.
Mahamadou Doumbia said a militant on a motorcycle entered the area around 3:40pm and cried “Allah Akbar” before jumping off and running toward the pool area.
“Then a car with three jihadists entered the resort and they started to fire their weapons,” he said. “A French soldier who had come for the weekend but had his gun shot and wounded a jihadist.”
A spokesman for French forces in Mali declined to immediately comment.
As night fell, witnesses saw smoke rising from the Campement Kangaba, which features three swimming pools and is a popular escape from the Malian heat.
It was not immediately clear what was burning. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
The west African country has been battling a jihadi insurgency for several years, with Islamist fighters roaming the north and centre of Mali. In November 2015, gunmen took guests and staff hostage at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako in a siege that left at least 20 people dead, including 14 foreigners. Responsibility for that attack was claimed by Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
A state of emergency has been renewed several times since the Radisson Blu attack, most recently in April, when it was extended for six months.
In 2012 Mali’s north fell under the control of jihadi groups linked to AQIM that hijacked an ethnic Tuareg-led rebel uprising, though the Islamists were largely ousted by a French-led military operation in January 2013. But jihadis have mounted numerous attacks on civilians and the army, as well as on French and UN forces still stationed there.