At least two people have been killed in a suspected terror attack on a tourist resort in Mali, the country’s tourist ministry confirmed.
Gunmen stormed the luxury Le Campement Kangaba resort on Sunday, taking hostages at the popular hotel, which lies east of the capital Bamako.
Mali’s foreign minister Salif Traore told AFP: “It is a jihadist attack. Malian Special Forces intervened and about 20 hostages have been released.”
He added: “Unfortunately for the moment there are two dead, including a Franco-Gabonese.”
Security forces confronted the gunmen after they took hostages; with a witness telling Reuterswestern tourists had fled as the gunman exchanged fire with police.
“Westerners were fleeing the encampment while two plainclothes police exchanged fire with the assailants,” witness Boubacar Sangare told the news service.
“There were four national police vehicles and French soldiers in armored vehicles on the scene.”
Just nine days before the attack, the US Embassy issued a warning that such an incident may occur, stating on its website: “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. Avoid vulnerable locations with poor security measures in place, including hotels, restaurants, and churches.”
It added: “The Department of State advises against all travel to Mali in its Travel Warning for Mali. Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.”
There has been no word on whether other hostages were injured during the siege, with the situation still ongoing.
Security Ministry spokesman Baba Cisse told Reuters by telephone: “Security forces are in place. Campement Kangaba is blocked off and an operation is under way,” adding: “The situation is under control.”
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but there are a number of militant groups operating in the country, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which along with another militant group carried out at attack on a Mali hotel in 2015 that left 20 people dead.