Suspected militants attack hotel in Mali
bamako, mali — Suspected Islamist militants attacked a hotel resort Sunday in Mali’s capital, taking hostages at a spot popular with foreigners on the weekends. The number of casualties was unclear, and the assault continued into the evening, authorities said.
Gunfire first rang out at the Campement Kangaba on the outskirts of Bamako in the late afternoon, according to a security official with the U.N. mission known as MINUSMA. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.
“I heard gunfire coming from the camp and I saw people running out of the site,” said Modibo Diarra, who lives nearby. “I learned that it was a terrorist attack.”
Malian soldiers later succeeded in entering the resort area, according to Commandant Modibo Traore, a spokesman for the Malian Special Forces in the former French colony.
“The operation is ongoing,” he said, estimating that there were three or four assailants.
As night fell, witnesses saw smoke rising from the Campement Kangaba resort, which has three swimming pools and is a popular escape from the Malian heat. It was not immediately clear what was burning, although Islamist militants in other attacks have set cars ablaze.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which came amid the final week of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In predominantly Muslim Mali, people have been fasting from sunrise to sundown for three weeks.
Sunday’s violence came about a week after the U.S. State Department warned of possible attacks on Western diplomatic missions and other locations in Bamako that Westerners frequent.
The U.N. official said those at the resort when the attack began included people affiliated with the French military mission as well as the U.N. and European Union missions in the country.
Religious extremism in Mali once was limited to northern areas, prompting the French military in 2013 to lead a military operation to oust Islamist militants from power in the major towns. But the militants have continued targeting Malian forces and peacekeepers, making it the deadliest U.N. mission in the world.
There are no French troops based in Bamako, but about 2,000 French troops are based in northern Mali fighting Islamic extremists.
French President Emmanuel Macron was informed about the attack and was following the events carefully, according to an official in his office.