UPDATE: 7:50 p.m. EDT -- Two suspects were arrested and were being interrogated in connection with an attack on a hotel in Mali's capital, Bamako, the country's internal security minister said, Reuters reported.
"One of the assailants was killed. We are examining the sack he was carrying, which could contain explosives," Interior Security Minister Col. Salif Traoré said on state television. "Two suspects were arrested and are being interrogated."
Unidentified gunmen stormed a hotel Monday in Mali’s capital, Bamako, according to a Defense Ministry official and a witness, Reuters reported. The hotel had been converted into a base for a European Union military training mission. A Defense Ministry spokesman confirmed shots were fired.
“The attackers tried to force through the entry and the guards posed in front of the entrance opened fire. One attacker was killed. The gunfire continued for several minutes,” said one witness near the Nord-Sud hotel, Reuters reported.
The Nord-Sud hotel serves as the headquarters for the mission of almost 600 EU military personnel deployed to Mali to train its security forces, according to Reuters. A Twitter account identified as the “official account of the European Union Training Mission in Mali” tweeted that no European Union Training Mission-Mali personnel had been hurt or injured during the attack, and that it was securing the area.
The U.S. Embassy in Bamako advised citizens to avoid the area and seek shelter.
2/2 Citizens should avoid ACI2000 area until further notice & shelter in place. Emb compound is in duck&cover status. More info to follow.
— U.S. Embassy Bamako (@USEmbassyMali) March 21, 2016
Bamako is no stranger to violence. A terrorist attack in the city last year claimed the lives of several people, including a security officer who had been working for the EU delegation in Mali. In a separate attack last year, five people were killed in a machine-gun and grenade assault at a bar in Bamako. In November, dozens of people were killed after the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako was seized by the group al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Earlier this month, the group also launched an attack on a beach resort town in Ivory Coast, killing 19 people.
While there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, radical Islamist terrorism runs rampant in West Africa. Recent terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali, Ivory Coast and Nigeria were all against soft targets, such as beach resorts, hotels and places of worship, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.