Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists claim responsibility for Mali resort attack
The attackers took more than 30 people hostage at at the popular?Kangaba Le Campement resort. (Image courtesy: Ana Demendoza) Photograph: (Twitter)
An Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist alliance claimed responsibility Monday for an attack on a tourist resort near Mali's capital that killed five people, in a statement carried by Mauritanian news agencies and posted on social media.
The Group to Support Islam and Muslims, a fusion of jihadist groups with previous Al-Qaeda links, said in a statement three "martyrs" had killed westerners, including members of the European Union's mission in the country, in Sunday's assault on the Kangaba Le Campement resort.
Earlier, at least four suspected jihadists were believed to have been killed after they stormed into a tourist resort popular with foreigners on the rim in Mali's capital Bamako on Sunday.
A local media report quoted a witness as saying that a motorbike-borne man arrived at the popular Kangaba Le Campement resort and opened fire on the unsuspecting people. The assailant was followed by three other people in another vehicle and took more than 30 people hostage, leaving at least two dead.
One of the victims was identified as a Franco-Gabonese, Mali's security minister Salif Traore told AFP. The other person's identity is yet to be ascertained.
Traore confirmed it was a jihadist attack, which comes two years after a similar attack was conducted on a popular luxury hotel in Bamako.
Four suspected jihadists stormed into the tourist resort reportedly screaming "Allahu Akbar", before opening fire (WION)
Malian special forces, backed by UN troops and French counter-terrorism force, rushed to the spot to free the hostages and end the siege.
Hours later, the security minister told reporters that at least four of the suspected jihadists had been killed and that the hostages had been released, 14 of whom have been injured.
"We have recovered the bodies of two attackers who were killed", Salif Traore told journalists, adding that they were "searching for the bodies of two others", without specifying if any more were on the run.
The released hostages, many of them still in their swimsuit, told reporters that the assailants shouted "Allahu Akbar", meaning "God is great" in Arabic, before they started firing at them.
Bamako hotels have been a target for jihadists in Mali. In November 2015, at least 20 people were dead after when jihadists -- believed to Al Qaeda fighters -- attacked Radisson Blu hotel.
The attack also comes a couple of weeks before French President Emmanuel Macron is scheduled to visit the country.
The landlocked west African country has been in the throes of a violent jihadist insurgency for several years, with several attacks being reported from the north and west of the country.
The US embassy had recently issued a warning earlier this month about a suspected terror attack on westerners.