The attackers stormed the hotel popular with westerners, opening fire on guests. A Malian soldier and another Malian national who worked for the European Union mission were also among the victims, along with a dual French-Gabonese citizen whose name has not been released. Malian, French and United Nations forces deployed in the former French colony responded by killing four of the attackers and arrested five, Reuters reported. European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini confirmed that two of the victims were EU staff-a Portuguese soldier and a Malian employee of the EU delegation in the North African country.
An al-Qaeda-linked group, called Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, has claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a luxury resort outside the Mali capital Bamako.
Mali's security minister later issued a statement confirming at least two deaths, one of which was a dual French-Gabonese citizen.
The Portuguese soldier who died was an off-duty member of the EU's army training mission in Mali.
"This was without doubt a terrorist attack", Security Minister Salif Traore told RFI on Monday. However, the attack resembled a number of others carried out by the local affiliate of al-Qaeda in West Africa over the past two years. It was later endorsed by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Mali's government said yesterday five suspected jihadists were in custody after an assault on a popular tourist resort near the capital, Bamako, which left two civilians dead.
In recent years, the extremists have become more brazen, attacking sites frequented by Westerners in the capital, Bamako.
But analysts said security forces appeared to have responded more quickly this time than in previous such attacks. Traore said that 36 hostages, mostly French and Malian, had also been freed during the rescue mission.
Mahamadou Doumbia said a militant on a motorcycle entered the area around 3:40 p.m. and cried "Allah Akbar" before jumping off and running toward the pool area.
"They're specialized in this kind of operation", he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron was informed about the attack and was following the events carefully, according to an official in his office.
Sunday's violence came about a week after the U.S. State Department warned of possible attacks on Western diplomatic missions and other locations in Bamako that Westerners frequent. "All I want to do is to see the list of my clients".