At Least 2 Killed in 'Jihadist' Attack on Mali Resort Popular With Western Expats

One of those killed was a French-Gabonese national ■ Estimates put number of assailants at 3 or 4 ■ 32 guests rescued from resort ■ Government says 'suspected jihadists' behind attack

An armored vehicle drives towards Le Campement Kangaba resort following an attack where gunmen stormed the resort in Dougourakoro, Mali in this still frame taken from video June 18, 2017.
REUTERS TV/REUTERS

Two people were killed when a luxury resort popular with Western expatriates outside Mali's capital Bamako came under attack by gunmen on Sunday.

One of the two who died in the attack on Le Campement Kangaba resort in Dougourakoro was a French-Gabonese nation, said security ministry spokesman Baba Cisse.

"We are in the process of confirming the other's nationality," he said.

Thirty-two guests have been rescued so far from the resort, Cisse said.

The government said the attack was perpetrated by "suspected jihadists."

The resort is popular with foreign residents who often visit for weekend breaks.

"I heard gunfire coming from the camp and I saw people running out of the tourist site," said Modibo Diarra, who lives nearby. "I learned that it was a terrorist attack."

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 armored vehicles on the scene." A helicopter was circling overhead, he said. 

Malian soldiers succeeded in entering the site, according to Commandant Modibo Traore, a spokesman for the Malian special forces in the former French colony.

"The operation is ongoing and we estimate that there are between three and four assailants," he said.

According to a security official with the UN mission known as MINUSMA, those at the resort when the attack began included people affiliated with the French military mission as well as the UN.

An official in French President Emmanuel Macron's office said the president has been informed about the attack and he and his teams are following the evolving events.

French military spokesman Col. Patrik Steiger said he had "strictly no information" about French military involvement in the incident in Bamako. He said there are no French troops based in Bamako, but about 2,000 French troops based in northern Mali fighting Islamic extremists.

Security has gradually worsened in Mali since French forces pushed back allied Islamist and Tuareg rebel fighters in 2013 from swathes of the north they had occupied the previous year.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and another militant group claimed responsibility an attack on a hotel in Mali's capital in late 2015 in which 20 people were killed.

French troops and a 10,000-strong UN peacekeeping force have battled to stabilize the country, and strikes on Malian and Western targets have spread further south and far beyond traditional militant strongholds.