Gunfire heard at Mali resort area popular with foreigners


A security ministry spokesman in Mali says "the situation is under control".

Two people were killed in a militant attack on a luxury tourist resort outside the Malian capital on Sunday, while special forces troops freed about 20 hostages seized by the gunmen, the country's security minister said. "Avoid vulnerable locations with poor security measures in place, including hotels, restaurants, and churches", the warning said.

An "ongoing attack" has roiled a luxury resort near Mali's capital, Bamako, the U.S. State Department confirmed Sunday.

The Associated Press said that there have been casualties and hostages reported. He had no further details. "Campement Kangaba is blocked off and an operation is under way", Security Ministry spokesman Baba Cisse told Reuters. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

"I heard gunfire coming from the camp and I saw people running out of the site", said Modibo Diarra, who lives nearby.

Late previous year, the U.S. State Department also warned U.S. citizens against traveling to Mali "because of ongoing terrorist attacks and criminal violence".

"They [the armed men] exchanged gunshots with members of the special anti-terrorist force (FORSAT) who had arrived just a few minutes after the attack". A helicopter was circling overhead, he said. The identity of the other person killed was not immediately known.

Al-Qaeda's North African affiliate Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) had claimed responsibility for the attack. In predominantly Muslim Mali, people have been fasting from sunrise to sundown for three weeks.

French President Emmanuel Macron was informed about the attack and was following the events carefully, according to an official in his office.

Malian government officials said about 30 people managed to escape.

"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".

It is not the first suspected terror attack to hit Mali.

But jihadists have continued to mount numerous attacks on civilians and the army, as well as on French and United Nations forces still stationed there.