Update: AFP reports that about 20 hostages seized in Bamako resort attack are freed, according to security minister
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A luxury resort popular with Western expats outside Mali's capital Bamako has been stormed by armed gunmen on Sunday, a spokesman at the Security Ministry said according to Reuters.
The attack took place at the Le Campement resort in Dougourakoro, to the east of the capital Bamako, and is said to still be going on. The rural resort offers luxury accommodation, a spa and three swimming pools, as well as running excursions and sports for guests.
As the Independent adds, the hotel is situated on the outskirts of Bamako, where the Radisson Blu hotel was the target of a previous terror attack that left more than 20 people dead in November 2015.
According to AP, casualties have been reported:
BREAKING: UN mission official: Terror attack underway at resort area in Mali's capital; casualties, hostages reported.— The Associated Press (@AP) June 18, 2017
Social media reports that Mali's FORSAT, a joint intervention force of police, national guard and gendarmerie, has arrived on the scene at the Le Campement.
Soldiers from France’s Bakhane counter-terrorist force have setup a security cordon in conjunction with local authorities. The joint military operation is still under way.
"Security forces are in place. Campement Kangaba is blocked off and an operation is under way," Security Ministry spokesman Baba Cisse said by telephone, as cited by Reuters. "The situation is under control," he added cited by Reuters.
It was not immediately if attack was conducted by Islamist terrorists, similar to the November 2015 attack, when Islamist militants took 170 hostages and killed 20 of them in a mass shooting at the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital Bamako. Back then Malian commandos raided the hotel and freed the surviving hostages. Al-Mourabitoun claimed that it carried out the attack "in cooperation with" Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb; an Al Qaeda member confirmed that the two groups cooperated in the attack.
The US Embassy in Bamako issued a warning on June 9 of a potential attack in the near future.
“The US Embassy informs US citizens of a possible increased threat of attacks against Western diplomatic missions, places of worship, and other locations in Bamako where Westerners frequent. Avoid vulnerable locations with poor security measures in place, including hotels, restaurants and churches.”
By way of background, French troops are supporting Malian government forces, while the violence has made the UN peacekeeping mission in the country the deadliest in the world.
Despite the deployment of 11,000 peacekeepers since France’s first intervention in 2013, Islamist groups have been re-gaining strength in recent months, launching a series of attacks on the military as they push south.