March 23, 2016 / 1:14 PM / in 2 years

Mali arrests 21 after attack on EU military training mission

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Authorities in Mali have arrested 21 people in connection with an attack on the headquarters of an EU military training operation there, a senior police official said on Wednesday.

Malian security officials evacuate people near the site of an attack on a hotel in Bamako that had been converted into the headquarters of a European Union military training operation, March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Adama Diarra

In the foiled gun attack on Bamako’s Nord-Sud Hotel on Monday, one assailant was killed and two others arrested. There were no reports of casualties at the hotel, where the EU Training Mission-Mali is based.

The EU mission is comprised of nearly 600 personnel deployed to train security forces as part of efforts to stabilize Mali after the defeat of Islamist militants who had seized the country’s desert north in 2012.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Mali and neighboring West African countries have increasingly been the target of Islamists, some affiliated with al Qaeda.

“Two individuals were arrested, and later we continued and arrested 19 other people,” Moussa Ag Infahi, director general of the National Police, told state radio. Police at the scene recovered “a sack of grenades”, ammunition, a sub-machine gun and a Kalashnikov assault rifle, he added.

France led the military intervention that drove the Islamists from their control of northern Mail in 2013, fearing that the region could be used as a base for attacks against Europe.

However, violence is again on the rise. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the group’s North African affiliate, has claimed responsibility for three attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast that have killed dozens in the past five months.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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