Update as of 3:37 a.m. EST: Two suspects have been arrested by police officials in connection to the attack at a restaurant in Bamako, Mali, in which five people were killed. The suspects are being interrogated by police and one of them had started giving out “interesting” information, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a source.
French and Belgian leaders condemned the attack after it was reported that there was one French and one Belgian national among the three Europeans killed in the attack. Didier Reynders, Belgium's foreign minister, called the attack a "cowardly act of terror."
French President Francois Hollande said that the country "condemns with the greatest force the cowardly attack," and said that he will meet Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to show his support, The Associated Press (AP) reported, adding that security around French facilities in the country has been tightened and the French embassy has set up a crisis cell to help expatriates.
Five people were shot dead in a restaurant in Mali's capital city of Bamako by men shouting “Allahu Akbar,” according to reports. Three Europeans, including one French and one Belgian national, were among those killed in the attack.
Witnesses to the attack said that four people fired machine guns and threw a grenade at the La Terrace restaurant in Bamako's lively Hippodrome district, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. Police officials investigating the case called it a terror attack and added that one of the locals killed was a police officer who was passing through the area. After the attack, the French embassy in Bamako asked French nationals in the city to exercise caution while outdoors.
"This is a terrorist attack, although we're waiting for clarification. Provisionally, there are four dead -- one French national, a Belgian and two Malians," a policeman told AFP.
Eight people were also wounded in the attack, which reportedly took place shortly after midnight on Saturday at the restaurant, which is popular among expatriates. The nationality of the third European casualty was not immediately clear.
"The zone where the shooting took place is under the control of the security forces...The security forces are conducting an operation to ensure there are no other surprises," an intelligence official told Reuters, adding that the motive of the attack is not yet known.
French soldiers reportedly arrived at the site soon after the attack and confirmed that one of the men killed was a French national, BBC reported. The other Malian victim is believed to be a security guard.
Mali’s army has been fighting nomadic Tuareg rebels and Islamist forces in the country for several years, including militants linked to al Qaeda, according to BBC. In January 2013, an intervention by French and African troops in January 2013 helped the country's government regain control of northern towns, and also stop the militants' advance toward the south. However, the rebels remain active in parts of the country.