Four guests killed in Mali resort attack


Reuters

UPDATE 4-Four guests killed in Mali resort attack


* Portuguese soldier, French citizen among the dead
    * Security forces rescue 36 people from raid
    * Islamists increasingly seek out Western targets in Mali

 (Adds missing French citizen, Malian analyst, details)
    By Idrissa SangareBAMAKO, June 19 (Reuters) - Gunmen killed four guests at a
Mali luxury resort popular with Western expatriates just outside
the capital Bamako, authorities said on Monday, and one other
guest is still missing.
    The assailants stormed the hotel on Sunday afternoon,
opening fire on guests and exchanging fire with security forces
deployed to try to free those trapped inside.
    One of the dead from Sunday's attack was a Portuguese
soldier working with the European Union (EU) military training
mission, Portugal's Armed Forces and EU foreign policy chief
Federica Mogherini confirmed. [nL8N1JG1M8]
    Mali's security ministry had earlier identified one of the
victims as French-Gabonese. [nL8N1JF0SP] A security source said
a third victim was Cameroonian and that the fourth had yet to be
identified. France'sForeign Ministry confirmed that the missing
person was a French national.
    Although the attackers succeeded in mounting a lethal
attack, security forces backed by French and U.N. troops managed
to rescue 36 residents including 13 French citizens.
    Security Minister Salif Traore told Radio France
International on Monday that "five terrorists were killed" in
operations that continued throughout the night.
    "This was without doubt a terrorist attack," he told the
radio station.
    The resort was still cordoned off by late morning on Monday
as a Malian anti-terrorist squad combed the area for the missing
person, a Reuters witness said. A U.N. mission helicopter was
circling overhead.
    Traore said the militants had accomplices who had not been
killed or detained.
    No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

    DESERT NORTH
    French troops and a 10,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force
have been battling to stabilise Mali, a former French colony,
ever since France intervened in 2013 to push back jihadists and
allied Tuareg rebels who had taken over the country's desert
north a year earlier.
    Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb and other Islamist groups
have claimed increasingly frequent attacks on Western targets in
Mali and the wider West Africa region, including a raid on a
Bamako hotel in late 2015 which killed 20 people.
    But analysts said security forces appeared to have responded
quicker this time than in previous such attacks.
    "One thing is sure: they are becoming more responsive," said
Adam Thiam, a Malian analyst and expert on the conflict. He said
this was partly because an elite counter-terrorism unit was now
properly up and running.
    "They're specialised in this kind of operation," he said.
    French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to the leader of Mali
after the attack and pledged his country's full support for the
country, Macron's office said on Monday. [nP6N1IJ021]
    "France condemns with utmost firmness this murderous
attack," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that
Malian and French authorities were "continuing their checks to
determine the possible presence of French nationals among the
victims. Research is underway to find a compatriot reported
missing".
     The African Union condemned the attack and reiterated its
commitment to support Mali in combating terrorism.
    "I am tired, shocked. I have no other words to say," the
resort owner Manou Morgane, a French national, told Reuters TV
overnight. "All I want to do is to see the list of my clients. I
want to find them (anyone missing)."

 (Additional reporting by Andrei Khalip in Lisbon and Tim Cocks
in Dakar; Writing by Tim Cocks, editing by Ed Osmond)
 ((tim.cocks@thomsonreuters.com;))

Keywords: MALI SECURITY/ (UPDATE 4, TV)



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