Two killed as jihadis attack Mali tourist resort

Gunmen stormed Le Campement Kangaba in Dougourakoro to the east of the capital Bamako a resort foreign residents often visit for weekend breaks

Shots were fired Sunday at a luxury resort popular with Westerners near Mali's capital city of Bamako, according to a tweet from the UN Mission to the West African country. At least two people were killed and about 30 people escaped, authorities said.

The Security Ministry said in a statement that "armed individuals - certainly terrorists" attacked the Campement Kangaba resort, noting that a Malian anti-terror force was on the scene. "Malian special forces intervened and hostages have been released", the minister said, while adding, "Unfortunately for the moment there are two dead, including a Franco-Gabonese".

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

As night fell, witnesses saw smoke rising from the resort, which features three swimming pools and is a popular escape from the Malian heat.

A security ministry official said government troops "have sealed off the area and are in the process of organising operations" against the attackers.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which came amid the final week of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The U.S. Embassy in Bamako warned American citizens that there was an increased threat of attack against locations in Bamako frequented by Westerners earlier in June.

"It is a jihadist attack".

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

Mali, a former French colony, has been battling Islamist extremists for several years.

The country has been in a state of emergency since the Radisson Blu attack, which was recently extended for an additional six months in April, the BBC reported.

Since the French pushback of rebel fighters and Islamic extremists in the north in 2013, Mali's security has slowly but steadily worsened.

An 800-man United Nations mission is now active in the country, enforcing a peace deal between the government and the rebels.

In March the same year, a grenade and gun attack on La Terrasse nightclub in Bamako killed five people, including foreigners.

Associated Press writers Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal, and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.

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