Gunmen attack EU military mission HQ in Mali; 1 attacker killed

Gunmen attack EU military mission HQ in Mali; 1 attacker killed

Gunmen on Monday (March 21) attacked a hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako, that had been converted into the headquarters of a European Union military training operation, but there are no casualties among the mission’s personnel.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which began at around 6:30 p.m. local time (1830 GMT). Mali and neighbouring West African countries have increasingly been the target of Islamist militants, some of them affiliated with al Qaeda.

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.

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

“The Hotel Nord Sud was attacked with gunfire.The EUTM (European Union Training Mission in Mali) soldiers and the guards in charge of the security at the building responded with fire,” Interior Security Minister Colonel Salif Traoré said on state television.

He added that one of the assailants was killed and that the sack he was carrying was being examined for the possibility of containing explosives.

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 Islamist militants, some of them linked to al Qaeda, seize its desert north in 2012.

France led an intervention a year later to drive back the Islamists, fearing that the lawless zone could be used as a base for attacks against targets in Europe.

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 Islamic Maghreb (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.