Bamako – Gunmen stormed a hotel in the remote centre of Mali on Friday in an ongoing attack that has left at least one person dead, military sources and residents said.
Malian troops were surrounding the Byblos hotel in the desert town of Sevare after what may have been an attempt to kidnap Western hotel guests, the military sources said.
At least five foreigners – three South Africans, a French national and a Ukrainian – were registered at the hotel, the sources said.
“The Fama [Malian armed forces] have sealed off the area… and the operation is still going on,” one military source said, adding that a body could be seen lying in front of the building.
“We still don’t know if the terrorists have been arrested. According to our information, they tried to kidnap Westerners but they didn’t succeed,” said one local resident contacted by phone by AFP.
Another resident said she had been woken early on Friday by the sound of gunshots. “The shooting is still going on but I don’t know who is shooting,” she said.
Sevare lies near the main regional town of Mopti, more than 620km from the capital Bamako.
Initial reports said that the assault targeted another hotel, the Debo, but the military source in Gao, the main town in northern Mali, said it was the Byblos that had come under attack.
“The army is trying to find [the attackers] and remove them,” a Mali army official told AFP from Bamako, adding however that the operation was delicate because of the presence of guests in the hotel.
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