Gunmen Attack Hotel Used by EU Trainers in Mali's Capital

  • No reports of injuries at Nord-Sud Hotel, EU Mission
  • Al-Qaeda killed dozens at West Africa hotels since November

Gunmen attacked a hotel in Mali’s capital used by European Union trainers. The presidency said the assault was repulsed.

No personnel of the EU Training Mission in Mali stationed at the Nord-Sud hotel in Bamako’s ACI 2000 neighborhood was injured, the EU office said on its Twitter account. Malian soldiers were sent to help secure the site and repel the gunmen, according to a person familiar with the operation who asked not to be named.

The raid was carried out by Morabetoun, an Islamist militant group, the al-Akhbar news agency reported, citing unidentified people from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

The assault sparked fears that al-Qaeda had resumed its campaign of targeting hotels in West Africa after storming establishments in three countries since November and killing more than 71 people. Ghana, the region’s second-largest economy, warned last week that there are credible threats that more attacks are being planned in West Africa.

More than 3,000 French soldiers are stationed across the Sahel, an arid area south of the Sahara, to fight Islamist militants stationed in northern Mali. The fighters, including al-Qaeda, use the north of Mali as a base to launch attacks on French soldiers and United Nations peacekeepers. Since November, the militants have expanded their range by targeting first the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali and then hotels in Burkina Faso’s capital in February, killing more than 50 people in both attacks.

Last week, al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for killing 21 people at beach hotels in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast.

Morabetoun and its leader, the one-eyed former Algerian soldier Mokhtar Belmokhtar, are best known for an attack on an Algerian gas plant in 2013 that killed more than a dozen hostages. Belmokhtar’s death has been reported more than once, though never confirmed.

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