Gunfire heard at Mali resort area popular with foreigners

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Suspected terrorists crying "Allahu Akbar" stormed a tourist resort popular with western tourists on the edge of the Malian capital Bamako on Sunday (June 18), briefly seizing hostages and leaving at least two people dead.

Of the 36 people who escaped unharmed, there were 13 French citizens, 14 Malians, and also Spanish, Dutch, Egyptian and Kenyan nationals, Traore said.

Four gunmen arriving on motorbikes and a auto stormed Le Campement Kangaba, near Dougourakoro, to the east of the capital Bamako, a resort that foreign residents visit for weekend breaks.

"Security forces are in place". "The situation is under control".

Witness Boubacar Sangare was just outside the compound as the attack unfolded.

"Westerners were fleeing the encampment while two plainclothes police exchanged fire with the assailants", he said.

A French military operation in January 2013 ousted the Islamist rebels but jihadists continue to mount frequent attacks on civilians and the Malian army, as well as on French and United Nations forces present in the country.

A helicopter was circling overhead, he said.

So far, in the confused circumstances surrounding the attack, the number of victims is not known and neither is the precise number of attackers. He said there were no French troops based in Bamako, but about 2,000 French troops were based in northern Mali fighting Islamic extremists.

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Initially concentrated in the desert north, attacks have increasingly struck the center and south, around Bamako.

Malian soldiers succeeded in entering the site, according to Commandant Modibo Traore, a spokesman for the Malian special forces in the former French colony.

Earlier security ministry spokesman Baba Cisse said two people had been killed.

A spokesman for French forces in Mali declined to immediately comment.

Sunday's violence came about a week after the U.S. State Department warned of possible attacks on Western diplomatic missions and other locations in Bamako that Westerners frequent. Some 20 people were killed in that attack, including 14 foreigners.

The Campement Kangaba is located on the outskirts of the capital, about 30 minutes from downtown Bamako.

In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron is closely following developments of the attack on a hotel resort in Mali's capital where suspected jihadists took hostages in a spot popular with foreigners.

That attack was jointly claimed by both the regional al-Qaida affiliate and a group known as Al Mourabitoun, which was founded by Moktar Belmoktar after he fell out with al-Qaida leaders.

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