By BABA AHMED
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Extremists launched an attack Monday evening on the European Union military mission’s headquarters in the Malian capital, underscoring their determination to continue striking against Western interests in the region.
Sgt. Baba Dembele from the anti-terrorism unit in Bamako told an Associated Press reporter at the scene that it was believed some attackers had entered the luxury hotel where the mission is headquartered.
The EU mission later released a statement on Twitter saying no personnel had been wounded during the violence, and that forces are securing the area.
The assault comes about four months after jihadis attacked the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital, killing 20 people. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and al-Mourabitoun claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was their first joint attack since al-Mourabitoun joined al-Qaida’s North Africa branch in 2015.
In January, other extremists from the same militant groups attacked a cafe near a hotel popular with foreigners in Burkina Faso’s capital, killing at least 30 people. And just last week al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for an assault on a beach in Ivory Coast that left at least 19 dead, identifying the three attackers as members of al-Mourabitoun and Sahara units.
This week marks the fourth anniversary of the coup that unleashed widespread chaos in Mali. After the overthrow of the democratically elected president, extremists in the northern half of Mali took over the major towns and began implementing their strict interpretation of Islamic law. The amputations and public whippings only ended when a French-led military mission forced them from power in 2013.
Over the past year, the jihadis have mounted a growing wave of violent attacks against U.N. peacekeepers who are trying to help stabilize the country.
This story has been corrected to give the death toll in the Burkina Faso attack as 30, not 29.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.