Gunfire heard at Mali resort area popular with foreigners

Security ministry spokesman Baba Cisse said: "Security forces are in place". The number of casualties was unclear as the assault continued into the evening.

"We have recovered the bodies of two attackers who were killed", said Mr Traore, adding that they were "searching for the bodies of two others".

"The situation is under control".

In January 2016, 30 people were killed, including many foreigners, in an attack on a top Burkina Faso hotel and a nearby restaurant in the capital Ouagadougou. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists. "Malian special forces intervened and about 20 hostages have been released", Salif Traoré said.

Reuters, sourcing a spokesman at the Security Ministry, reported that the resort came under attack by gunmen.

Witness Boubacar Sangare was just outside the compound during the attack.

"There were four national police vehicles and French soldiers in armored vehicles on the scene".

There are no French troops based in Bamako, but about 2,000 French troops are based in northern Mali fighting Islamic extremists. People in the predominantly Muslim country have been fasting from sunrise to sunset for the past three weeks.

Several Jihadist groups have been waging insurgencies in Mali for several years.

The US embassy in Bamako had warned earlier this month "of a possible increased threat of attacks against Western diplomatic missions, places of worship, and other locations in Bamako where Westerners frequent".

Security has gradually worsened in Mali since French forces pushed back allied Islamist and Tuareg rebel fighters in 2013 from swathes of the north they had occupied the previous year.

Sunday's attack brings to mind the November 2015 attack when gunmen attacked Radisson hotel in Bamako.

Religious extremism in Mali once was limited to northern areas, prompting the French military in 2013 to lead a military operation to oust jihadis from power in the major towns in the north. While the militants were officially ousted, they have continued to launch regular attacks on United Nations peacekeeping and Malian military sites.

That attack was claimed by the militant group al-Mourabitoun, which said it collaborated with an al-Qaida affiliate in the violence.

  • Leroy Wright