March 28, 2018 / 10:43 PM / a year ago

Gunmen attack central Mali hotel, one dead - witnesses

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Unidentified gunmen killed one person and wounded at least two others late on Wednesday in an attack on a hotel in the central Mali town of Bandiagara regularly frequented by United Nations staff and humanitarian workers, two witnesses said.

Five men approached the entrance to the Hotel la Falaise on foot at around 9.30 p.m. (2130 GMT) and opened fire, they said.

“The were walking calmly and seemed normal,” said Bocar Karambe, a driver who was across the street from the hotel when the attack occurred.

“Once they arrived in front of the gate, we heard the gunfire. When I turned around I saw they were shooting point blank at the people in front of the hotel,” he said.

At least three people, a soldier guarding the entrance and two hotel workers, were struck by bullets. The soldier later died, Karambe and a second witness said.

One attacker was also killed.

The Hotel la Falaise was once popular with tourists visiting the Dogon people, who inhabit the cliffs of Mali’s central plateau.

However, the area’s tourism industry dried up after Islamist groups, some with links to al Qaeda, seized Mali’s desert north in 2012. They were driven back by a French-led military intervention a year later, but attacks remain frequent.

Reporting by Cheikh Amadou Diouara; Writing by Joe Bavier; editing by Grant McCool

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