BAMAKO, MALI-Suspected jihadists launched an attack Sunday on a hotel resort in Mali's capital, taking hostages at a spot popular with foreigners on the weekends. "Malian Special Forces intervened and about 20 hostages have been released".
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.
"Unfortunately for the moment there are two dead, including a Franco-Gabonese".
An armoured vehicle drives towards Le Campement Kangaba resort following an attack where gunmen stormed the resort in Dougourakoro, to the east of the capital Bamako, Mali in this still frame taken from video June 18, 2017.
2 people dead as gunmen attack Mali tourist resort
Security minister Salif Traore said 20 hostages were freed after an operation by special forces, which have surrounded the resort. Andrea de Georgio, a freelance journalist in Bamako, also quoted officials as saying that at least two people were killed.
"Security forces are in place", said Baba Cisse, security ministry spokesperson, in an interview with Reuters.
Religious extremism in Mali once was limited to northern areas, prompting the French military in 2013 to lead a military operation to oust jihadis from power in the major towns in the north.
One of the extremists was wounded but managed to escape, according to the statement.
"Sunday's violence came about a week after the State Department warned USA citizens of "possible future attacks" on locations in Bamako that Westerners frequent".
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London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged people to "remain calm and vigilant" after the " horrific terrorist attack on innocent people ". Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, said her "thoughts are with all those affected by the appalling incident at Finsbury Park".
Of the 36 people who escaped unharmed, there were 13 French citizens, 14 Malians, and also Spanish, Dutch, Egyptian and Kenyan nationals, Traore said. The country has been in a state of emergency since the Radisson Blu attack, which was recently extended for an additional six months in April, the BBC reported. A local al-Qaida affiliate in Mali claimed responsibility for the attack.
But jihadists have mounted numerous attacks on civilians and the army, as well as on French and United Nations forces still stationed there.
In his first foreign trip after being elected, French President Emmanuel Macron visited Mali and spoke with Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and soldiers of the Barkhane forces. AQIM claimed the assault, saying the gunmen were from the Al-Murabitoun group of Algerian extremist Mokhtar Belmokhtar. The force has been a constant target for attacks by armed fighters, and many peacekeepers have lost their lives. According to recent reports, Malian soldiers and France's counter-terrorist force are in the area.
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However, Pentagon and State Department officials have scrambled to reassure the emirate . But it so far has avoided economic collapse by quickly finding alternative routes.
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