Mali attack: Two EU staff killed at tourist resort

Media captionA fire burns in the forest surrounding the resort

Two EU staff were killed when gunmen stormed a tourist resort in Mali on Sunday, the bloc’s foreign affairs chief has said.

One victim was a Portuguese soldier while the other was a Malian woman, Federica Mogherini added.

Mali’s security minister said on Sunday that a Franco-Gabonese person was also killed.

It is not clear how many people in total have been killed and no group has said it carried out the attack.

“It is a jihadist attack. Malian special forces intervened and hostages have been released,” Mali Security Minister Salif Traore told AFP news agency.

The minister said four assailants had been killed by security forces. On Monday he told AFP that five suspects had been arrested.

“We have recovered the bodies of two attackers who were killed,” said Mr Traore, adding that they were “searching for the bodies of two others”.

One of them left behind a machine gun and bottles filled with “explosive substances”.

The ministry said another two people had been injured, including a civilian.

A security ministry spokesman told Reuters news agency that 32 guests had been rescued from the Le Campement Kangaba resort, east of Bamako..

Malian special forces intervened, backed by UN soldiers and troops from a French counter-terrorism force.

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Mali’s government says it suspects jihadists are behind the resort attack

Witness Boubacar Sangare was just outside the compound as the attack unfolded.

“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.

The European Union training mission in Mali, EUTM Mali, tweeted that it was aware of the attack and was supporting Malian security forces and assessing the situation.

Earlier this month, the US embassy in Bamako had warned of “possible future attacks on Western diplomatic missions, other locations in Bamako that Westerners frequent”.

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French soldiers stand around a United Nations vehicle following an attack where gunmen stormed Le Campement Kangaba in Dougourakoro

BBC correspondent Alex Duval Smith says many expats and wealthy Malians go to Kangaba at weekends, to enjoy the pools, cocktail bar, canoeing facilities, and other activities for children.

The spokesman for the Portuguese armed forces, Helder Antonio da Silva Perdigao, said in a statement that the location is used by soldiers in the EUTM Mali as a place to relax in-between operations.

He added that soldiers from several countries were there at the time of the attack.

The Portuguese soldier who died was part of the EUTM Mali, he said.

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

In November 2015, at least 20 people were killed when gunmen took guests and staff hostage at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako.

Al-Qaeda’s North African arm, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), said it was behind that siege.

Mali has been in a state of emergency since the Radisson Blu attack. It was extended for a further six months in April.

The country’s security has gradually worsened since 2013, when French forces repelled allied Islamist and Tuareg rebel fighters who had seized control of much of the north.

French troops and a 10,000-strong force of UN peacekeepers have been battling to stabilise the former French colony.

Mali attack: Two EU staff killed at tourist resort

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