Two people are dead after a luxury resort outside Mali’s capital Bamako came under attack by gunmen on Sunday.
One of the dead at the Le Campement Kangaba resort, which is popular with Western expatriates, was a French-Gabonese national, Mali security ministry spokesman Baba Cisse stated.
“We are in the process of confirming the other’s nationality. Thirty-two guests have been rescued so far from the resort, Cisse added.
According to media reports, the government said the attack was perpetrated by “suspected jihadists”.
As Westerners fled four police vehicles and French soldiers in armoured vehicles arrived on the scene while a helicopter circled overhead, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
Mali soldiers entered the resort and an exchange of gunfire between the militants, who were estimated to number 3-4, and Mali security forces was reported as ongoing overnight.
The UN mission to Mali MINUSMA stated that those who came under attack included people working with the French military mission as well as the UN.
However, French military spokesman Colonel Patrik Steiger said he had “strictly no information” about French military involvement in the incident in Bamako.
There are no French troops in the capital but approximately 2,000 are based in northern Mali fighting Islamic militants.
In 2013, French troops succeeded in pushing Islamist and Tuareg rebel fighters out of swathes of the north which they had managed to occupy in 2012.
However, the French and MINUSMA’s force of 10,000 have struggled to stabilise the country and attacks on foreigners and peacekeepers have continued spreading further south beyond the northern areas where the militants have strongholds.
Twenty people were killed in an attack on a hotel in Bakamo in 2015 carried out by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in coordination with another militant group.
Emmanuel Macron, the new French President, was reported to be following events, in the former French Colony.