DAKAR, SENEGAL - Gunmen near Mali's capital city of Bamako attacked a luxury resort popular with Westerners on Sunday, the U.S. State Department said.
On Twitter, the State Department warned people to avoid the area.
Mali's Ministry of Security and Civil Protection said in a statement that "armed individuals — certainly terrorists" attacked the Le Campement resort, noting that a Malian anti-terror force was on the scene.
A security official with the United Nations mission known as MINUSMA told the Associated Press that people had been killed and wounded, but gave no immediate death toll. There also were believed to be hostages in the luxury Campement de Kangaba resort area, the AP reported.
More than 30 people managed to escape though at least two people were killed, authorities said.
Moussa Ag Infahi, director of the national police, told the AP that three of the assailants had been killed while a fourth escaped.
Gunfire first rang out at the Campement Kangaba on the outskirts of Bamako in the late afternoon, according to a security guard who was working at the time.
Mahamadou Doumbia said a militant on a motorcycle entered the area around 3:40 p.m. local time and cried “Allah Akbar” before jumping off and running toward the pool area.
“Then a car with three jihadis entered the resort and they started to fire their weapons,” he said. “A French soldier who had come for the weekend but had his gun shot and wounded” a jihadi.
Mali’s security minister later issued a statement confirming at least two deaths, one of which was a dual French-Gabonese citizen.
As night fell, witnesses saw smoke rising from the Campement Kangaba, which features three swimming pools and is a popular escape from the Malian heat. It was not immediately clear what was burning, although extremists in other attacks have set cars ablaze.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which came amid the final week of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In predominantly Muslim Mali, people have been fasting from sunrise to sundown for three weeks.
The European Union Training Mission in Mali said it was aware of the attack and was assessing the situation, CNN reported.
Sunday's violence came about a week after the State Department warned U.S. citizens of "possible future attacks" on locations in Bamako that Westerners frequent." The U.S. Embassy warning included what it said was an increased threat against Western diplomatic missions and places of worship, among others. "Avoid vulnerable locations with poor security measures in place, including hotels, restaurants, and churches," the warning noted.
Le Campement is located on the outskirts of the capital, about 30 minutes from downtown Bamako. It is also popular with expatriates who use its facilities to host business meetings.
The former French colony has been battling Islamist extremists for several years, CNN noted: In November 2015, gunmen raided a Malian hotel and killed at least 22 people, according to the U.N. Mission in Mali.
Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Greg Toppo on Twitter: @gtoppo
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