Wednesday, 28 June, 2017

Suspected jihadists hit resort in Mali's capital

Campement Mali TWITTERLe Campement resort in Bamako Mali has come under attack
Howard Terry | 19 June, 2017, 01:21

Suspected jihadists are behind an attack Sunday on a tourist resort popular with Westerners on the edge of the Malian capital Bamako, a security ministry official told AFP.

"It is a jihadist attack".

Mali has been fighting a jihadist insurgency for several years, with Islamist fighters active in the country's northern and central regions. A devastating attack on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako later that year left 20 dead - six Malians and 14 foreigners.

"The operation is ongoing and we estimate that there are between three and four assailants", said Commandant Modibo Traore, a spokesman for the Malian special forces in the former French colony.

The incident is taking place at the "Le Campement", a luxury destination.

That attack was claimed by the militant group al-Mourabitoun, which said it collaborated with an al-Qaida affiliate in the violence. In March 2015, five people died when militants hit a popular restaurant in the capital.

The Kangaba, located on the eastern edge of Bamako, boasts accommodation in hut-style rooms, as well as restaurants and swimming pools, according to its website. There were no details of casualties but the attack was continuing on Sunday evening.

Religious extremism in Mali once was limited to northern areas, prompting the French military in 2013 to lead a military operation to oust jihadists from power in the major towns.

The unrest has continued despite a 2015 peace deal between the government and Tuareg-led rebels offering partial autonomy to the north.

Malian soldiers and troops from France's Bakhane counter-terrorist team have arrived at the scene. AQIM claimed the assault, saying the gunmen were from the Al-Murabitoun group of Algerian extremist Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

An unknown number of people were injured and taken to a hospital after the attack on Le Campement resort, the source said. It has been targeted constantly by jihadists, with dozens of peacekeepers killed.

Another militant group led by the Malian jihadist Iyad Ag Ghaly, a former leader of the Ansar Dine Islamists, has also claimed multiple attacks on domestic and foreign forces since its formation - particularly against the 12,000-member United Nations force known as MINUSMA.

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