Gunman killed, two suspects arrested during attack in Mali

Gunman killed, two suspects arrested after attack on EU military training base in Mali's capital Bamako, interior security minister says

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

European soldiers walk in a street during an attack targeting a hotel hosting an EU military training mission in Bamako on March 21, 2016.

Updated Mar 22, 2016

Gunmen on Monday attacked a hotel in Mali's capital, Bamako, that had been converted into the headquarters of a European Union military training operation, but there were no casualties among the mission's personnel.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which began around 6:30 pm local time (1830 GMT), Mali and neighbouring West African countries have been the target of Boko Haram militants, some of them affiliated with Al Qaeda.

One of the assailants was killed and two suspects were arrested and were being interrogated, the country's internal security minister said.

A witness said the attack targeted Bamako's Nord-Sud Hotel, headquarters for the mission of nearly 600 EU personnel deployed to Mali to train its security forces.

"The attackers tried to force through the entry and the guards posted in front of the entrance opened fire. One attacker was killed," he said.

Sekou Tamboura was near the hotel when the shooting began.

"We were next to the Hamdallaye Cemetery when the first shot rang out, then there was a second and a third. There were a few seconds of pause, then it kicked off and did not stop. It was every man for himself," Tamboura said.

The mission confirmed the attack on its official Twitter feed.

"EUTM-MALI HQ has been attacked. No EUTM-Mali personnel has been hurt ... during the attack," it said.

Azalai Hotels, which runs the Nord-Sud Hotel, later posted on Twitter that the assailants had been repelled and the building had been secured.

"One of the assailants was killed. We are examining the sack he was carrying, which could contain explosives," Interior Security Minister Colonel Salif Traore said on state television. "Two suspects were arrested and are being interrogated."

He added that security forces were carrying out operations around the EU headquarters and seeking to secure another building nearby.

A photo taken of the dead gunman, seen by Reuters, showed a man who appeared to be in his 20s, possibly from northern Mali, dressed stylishly in jeans, a brown shirt and trainers, lying on his back in a pool of blood beside a Kalashnikov assault rifle.

Malian security officials evacuate people near the site of an attack on a hotel in Bamako that had been converted into the headquarters of a European Union military training operation, March 21, 2016. (Reuters)

A Reuters reporter at the scene of the attack said security forces, including Malian Army special forces, had cordoned off the area while a cleanup operation was carried out.

Vehicles from Mali's United Nations peacekeeping mission were also visible.

The EU mission was deployed as part of efforts to stabilise Mali, which saw militants, some of them linked to Al Qaeda, seize its desert north in 2012.

However, violence is again on the rise. Dozens of people were killed in a November raid on Bamako's Radisson Blu hotel claimed by Al Qaeda in the AQIM, the group's North African branch.

A similar assault on a hotel in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, followed in January. AQIM also claimed responsibility for another attack that killed 19 people a beach resort town in Ivory Coast earlier this month.

TRTWorld, Reuters