Gunfire heard at Mali resort area popular with foreigners


Gunmen killed four guests and a soldier at a Mali luxury resort popular with Western expatriates just outside the capital Bamako, authorities said on Monday, and one other guest is still missing.

The Portuguese national was part of an EU training mission in Bamako and the Malian national was working for the European Commission delegation, she said.

Security forces aided by United Nations soldiers were called to the scene eventually rescuing 36 guests. Later in March, five people, including two Westerners, died in an attack against a restaurant in Bamako.

Security minister Salif Traore said 32 hostages were freed after an operation by special forces, which have surrounded the resort.

EU foreign ministers were meeting today in Luxembourg to discuss counter-terrorism as well as the Africa-EU partnership and EU support to Mali and the Sahel region. United Nations peacekeepers and Malian troops are targeted nearly weekly by bombings and hit-and-run attacks in the north and increasingly in the center of the country.

Prosecutor Boubacar Sidiky Samake said other victims were a Chinese man, a Malian woman and a Portuguese man who died from bullet wounds, while a man from Cameroon died of a heart attack at the scene.

Several of those rescued said the assailants shouted Allahu Akbar during the attack.

The Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said the army had repelled an attack against a military post in Bamba in the north on Monday.

Malian troops take position outside the Radisson Blu in Bamako on November 20, 2015, after gunmen went on a shooting rampage at the luxury hotel.

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

The landlocked west African country has been battling a jihadist insurgency for several years, with Islamist fighters roaming the north and center of Mali.

A spokesman for French forces in Mali declined to comment.

In spite of a peace agreement signed in late spring of 2015 with other rebel forces, which aimed at isolating the jihadists, attacks remain frequent while the pact awaits implementation.

"He added that a helicopter was circling overhead".

Mogherini, who has promised 50 million euros ($56 million) to back the new force, said Monday that Europeans and Africans were "brothers and sisters" in the fight against terror.

France also has 4,000 soldiers in its Bakhane force in five countries-Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso-all of which are threatened by the jihadists across their porous borders.