Armed Forces: Swede missing after attack in Mali

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Suspected jihadists attacked the hotel resort Sunday in Mali's capital, taking hostages at a spot popular with foreigners on the weekends.

The resort is a popular destination for expats and western tourists alike.

Locals also said they heard shots being fired at the luxury resort.

Security minister Salif Traore said 20 hostages were freed after an operation by special forces, which have surrounded the resort.

Mali, a former French colony, has been battling Islamist extremists for several years. "The situation is under control".

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"Sunday's violence came about a week after the State Department warned USA citizens of "possible future attacks" on locations in Bamako that Westerners frequent".

The Malian Security Ministry said that attackers were "armed individuals, certainly terrorists", and although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, it appears to be quite similar to other attacks carried out by jihadist groups in Mali and North Africa, mainly targeting areas frequented by Westerners.

The assault on the Kangaba Le Campement resort comes after a similar strike less than two years ago on a luxury hotel in Bamako, which lies in the south of the troubled country.

French troops are supporting Malian government forces, while the violence has made the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country the deadliest in the world. "Westerners were fleeing the encampment while two plain-clothes police exchanged fire with the assailants", he said. In late 2015, militants attacked a Radisson hotel outside of the capital city of Bamako, leaving more than 20 dead.

That attack was jointly claimed by both the regional al-Qaida affiliate and a group known as Al Mourabitoun, which was founded by Moktar Belmoktar after he fell out with al-Qaida leaders.

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A state of emergency has been renewed several times since the Radisson Blu attack, most recently in April when it was extended for six months.

The Malian military said in a statement that two people were injured, one civilian and one member of the security forces.

Religious extremism in Mali once was limited to northern areas, prompting the French military in 2013 to lead a military operation to oust jihadis from power in the major towns in the north.

France also has 4,000 soldiers in its Bakhane force in five countries - Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso - all of which are threatened by the militant threat across their porous borders.

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