A new alliance of Islamist militant groups linked to al Qaeda on Monday claimed responsibility for an attack that killed at least five people at a Mali luxury resort popular with Western expatriates just outside the capital Bamako.
The assailants stormed the hotel on Sunday afternoon, opening fire on guests and battling with French and Malian special forces deployed to try to free those trapped inside.
Mali’s Security Ministry said in a statement late on Monday that four of the dead were guests and one was a local soldier who died in the firefight.
The nationalities of the dead were a French-Malian, a French-Gabonese, a Chinese, a Portuguese and a Malian soldier, the ministry said. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, confirmed that two of the dead were working for its mission there.
Although the attackers succeeded in mounting a lethal assault, security forces backed by French and United Nations troops managed to rescue around 60 residents in two batches on Sunday night, including 13 French citizens and several children.
Some survived thanks to a hotel cashier who led them to a cave embedded in the red-earth hillside near the hotel, according to an interview he gave to Radio France International (RFI).
“This was without doubt a terrorist attack,” Security Minister Salif Traore told RFI on Monday.
His ministry’s statement added that authorities had killed four attackers and arrested five others.
Earlier in the day, Traore said some of the militants’ accomplices were still at large. Several security forces were still being treated for serious injuries. (AP)