Four gunmen attacked a hotel hosting an EU military training mission in Bamako, Mali's capital on 21 March. Armed forces killed at least one man in the latest string of attacks on Western interests in the region.
Sergeant Baba Dembele from the anti-terrorism unit in Bamako said that it was believed some attackers had entered the Hotel Nord-Sud, where the mission is headquartered.
"Four people tried to force their way through the barricade firing shots," one source told AFP. "One of the four was neutralised, we are searching for the three others," the source added.
A witness said the attackers tried to force their way through the entrance of the hotel when the guards posted at the front opened fire. "The attackers tried to force through the entry and the guards posed in front of the entrance opened fire, killing at least one gunman. The dead man lay outside the Hotel Nord-Sud in a pool of blood, with a Kalashnikov next to him.
A Defence Ministry spokesman confirmed that shots had been fired at the hotel. The EU mission released a statement on Twitter saying none of their personnel had been hurt during the armed attack, and that forces were securing the area. EU soldiers, the Malian army, national police and other security forces were guarding outside the hotel, according to an AP report.
Four months ago, Islamic militants targeted the Radisson Blue hotel in Barnako, killing 27 people. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al-Mourabitoun claimed responsibility for the attack.
This week is the fourth anniversary of the coup that brought widescale chaos to Mali. After the ousting of the democratically elected president, extremists in the northern half of Mali took over the major towns and brought into practice a strict interpretation of Islamic law, with reports of amputations and public whippings. This was brought to an end by a French-led military mission that removed them from power in 2013.
But over the past year, the jihadis have mounted a growing wave of violent attacks against UN peacekeepers who are trying to help stabilise the country. The UN mission has not stopped the violence and rebels have expanded their attacks in recent months into other parts of Mali.
On 12 February, at least five UN peacekeepers were killed in an attack on their base in northeastern Mali. Eight mortar shells were fired at the base and there was also gunfire, said Olivier Salgado, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping mission. A statement issued by the secretary-general's office said "attacks targeting United Nations peacekeepers constitute war crimes under international law".