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Islamist Gunmen Storm Luxury Resort Popular With Foreigners In Malian Capital, Bamako

 

The Oasis Reporters

June 19, 2017

Malian Army Tank races to the burning Resort while UN Peacekeepers watch.

Mali is a country that has battled Islamist insurgency over the years.
Sunday the 18th, 2017 saw yet another daring attack on a luxury resort popular with foreigners outside Mali’s capital Bamako. The attack was by gunmen on Sunday, the Security Ministry said.
Gunmen stormed Le Campement Kangaba in Dougourakoro, to the east of the capital Bamako, a resort foreign residents often visit for weekend breaks.
According to FRANCE 24’s correspondent Anthony Fouchard in Bamako, the campground is on fire and people are being evacuated one by one by Malian and European troops as well as UN peacekeeping forces. Fouchard said at least two foreigners and one member of the Malian army have been killed in the attack, adding that heavy gunfire could still be heard from the compound. A security ministry spokesman said one of the dead was French-Gabonese.
“Security forces are in place. Campement Kangaba is blocked off and an operation is underway,” Security Ministry spokesman Baba Cisse told Reuters. French soldiers are supporting the Malian army in the operation.
“The situation is under control.” According to AFP, the minister also said “suspected jihadists” were behind the attack.
The ministry said around 20 people who had been held hostage had been released.
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 Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and another militant group claimed responsibility for 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 stabilise the former French colony and strikes on Malian and Western targets have spread further south and far beyond traditional militant strongholds.

Though the attack on the popular resort outside Bamako has left two people dead, dozens of guests have been rescued, officials say.

Malian troops and soldiers from France’s Bakhane counter-terrorist force headed to the scene. Local residents reported hearing shots fired while smoke billowed into the air.

Mali’s Security Minister Salif Traore said late on Sunday that at least four attackers were killed by security forces.

“We have recovered the bodies of two attackers who were killed,” Traore told journalists, adding that they were “searching for the bodies of two others”, without specifying if any more were on the run.

“At first we thought they were armed bandits but we know how armed bandits operate, they don’t hold territory, so now we think it is a terrorist attack,” Traore had earlier told reporters outside the entrance to the resort, part of which was on fire.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Officials said two people had been killed, including a French-Gabonese citizen and another whose nationality was not yet known.

Two others had been wounded, one civilian and a policeman, Baba Cisse, spokesman for the security ministry, told the Reuters news agency. An attacker had also been wounded and fled, leaving a sub-machine gun and six bottles of explosives behind, he said.

Malian state TV reported that 36 guests had so far been rescued. At least 14 people, both Malians and foreigners, were wounded, according to the security ministry.

A witness told local television ORTM said he saw a man arrive on a motorcycle who “started shooting at the crowd” followed by “two or three people” who came in another vehicle.

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 told Reuters.

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

Andrea de Georgio, a freelance journalist in Bamako, said the resort is located about 10km outside the capital.

He told Al Jazeera that the attack seemed to be “well-organised”.

“The attackers are hidden inside the camp, and the camp is very big so there are a lot of places where they can hide,” de Georgio said.

Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque, reporting from neighbouring Senegal, quoted sources as saying that security forces have be going door-to-door inside the resort, making sure that the fighters are apprehended or driven out.

Security threats

The west African country has been battling armed rebellion for several years, with fighters roaming the north and centre of Mali.

The US embassy in Bamako had warned earlier this month “of a possible increased threat of attacks against Western diplomatic missions, places of worship, and other locations in Bamako where Westerners frequent”.

In November 2015, gunmen took guests and staff hostage at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako in a siege that left at least 20 people dead, including 14 foreigners.

That attack was claimed by al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate, the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) group.

A state of emergency has been renewed several times since the Radisson Blu attack, most recently in April when it was extended for six months.

The United Nations has a 12,000-strong force in Mali known as MINUSMA, which began operations in 2013.

It has been targeted constantly by armed fighters, with dozens of peacekeepers killed, including five on Saturday.

Source: France 24
Al Jazeera
Reuters
AFP
Malian Television and other news agencies

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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