Gunfire heard at Mali resort area popular with foreigners

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   MALI Hostages have been taken at a popular luxury resort near Bamako

Residents nearby told the BBC that they heard shots coming from the resort.

"It is a jihadist attack. Avoid vulnerable locations with poor security measures in place, including hotels, restaurants, and churches", the warning said.

"Unfortunately for the moment there are two dead, including a Franco-Gabonese".

"The operation is ongoing", he said, estimating there were three or four assailants. "We are searching room by room".

There was no information immediately available on casualties.

The ministry said another two people had been injured, including a civilian.

Malian troops and soldiers from France's Bakhane counter-terrorist force are at the site.

The west African country has been battling armed rebellion for several years, with fighters roaming the north and centre of Mali. He said there are no French troops based in Bamako, but about 2,000 French troops based in northern Mali fighting Islamic extremists.

A state of emergency has been renewed several times since the Radisson Blu attack, most recently in April when it was extended for six months.

In March the same year, a grenade and gun attack on La Terrasse nightclub in Bamako killed five people, including foreigners.

The grounds include a hotel, bars, restaurant, spa and swimming pools.

A spokesperson for the country's interior ministry told Reuters that a luxury spot that is known to be popular with Westerners came under attack on Sunday (18 June).

Religious extremism in Mali once was limited to northern areas, prompting the French military in 2013 to lead a military operation to oust jihadists from power in the major towns in the north.

The official, with the United Nations mission known as MINUSMA, said people had been killed and wounded but gave no immediate toll.

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