At least one person was killed in an attack early on Friday by unidentified gunmen on a hotel in central Mali frequented by United Nations peacekeepers in the West African nation, a witness and a military spokesman said.
The raid targeted a hotel on the road to the airport in Sevare, which services the larger town of Mopti. The body of one victim was visible in front of the building, the two sources said.
A second military source said two people had been killed.
“It started before 8 a.m. (0800 GMT). I saw a body in front of the hotel. It was a white man but I don’t know his nationality,” said airport worker Moussa Diallo.
The hotel was believed to be lodging nationals from South Africa, France and Ukraine, Malian military spokesperson Souleymane Dembele said in text message.
“The (Malian army) has encircled the zone and is attempting to enter the hotel,” he wrote.
A U.N. source, who asked not to be named, said that the attackers remained in the hotel and that gunfire continued to be heard three hours after the initial assault.
The U.N. force, known as MINUSMA, was deployed in the wake of an Islamist militant occupation of Mali’s desert north. A French-led military operation drove the insurgents, some of them with links to al Qaeda, from cities and towns in the north, but remnants of the Islamist fighters continue to carry out attacks.