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Five Shot Dead in Mali Restaurant

  • VOA News

Soldiers gesture in front of La Terrasse restaurant where militants killed five people, including a French citizen and a Belgian citizen, in a gun attack in Bamako, March 7, 2015.

Soldiers gesture in front of La Terrasse restaurant where militants killed five people, including a French citizen and a Belgian citizen, in a gun attack in Bamako, March 7, 2015.

A gunman shot up a restaurant in Mali's capital Saturday, killing at least five people and wounding several others, police said.

The attack on the La Terrasse restaurant in Bamako took place in the early-morning hours. A hooded gunman ran into the restaurant and opened fire on guests, then got into a vehicle where another person was waiting, and they sped away, police said.

Two people were arrested shortly afterward, but police could not confirm that they were linked to the attack.

Two Malians, a French national and a Belgian were killed. The nationality of the fifth victim was not clear. The restaurant is in a Bamako neighborhood popular with expatriates.

The Mauritanian news website Al Akhbar said that the al-Qaida-linked group al-Mourabitoun had claimed responsibility for an attack in Mali's capital that killed five people.

Al Akhbar often posts statements by Islamist militants in Mali.

French President Francois Hollande denounced the attack in a statement, calling it a "cowardly act" and adding that security had been stepped up at the French embassy and other French installations in Mali, a former French colony.

France has helped wrest control of Mali's northern territory from separatist rebels and al-Qaida-linked fighters. It still has about 3,000 troops there. Mali's government signed a preliminary peace deal recently with some of the country's northern separatist groups, but the main Tuareg rebel alliance asked for more time for consultations before agreeing to the accord.

The region remains plagued by violence, but Bamako, in the south, has been largely peaceful.

In a separate incident Saturday in northern Mali, an angry mob lynched and burned two suspected bombers in Gao, security sources said. The suspects were planning to set off bombs remotely when they were surprised by Gao residents who reportedly would not be stopped.

In a statement, Hollande's office said France has agreed with Mali to implement new measures to reinforce security, although no details were given. The statement also said Hollande would meet with Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to show his sympathy and France's support.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is visiting Paris, called the attack a "horrific" and "cowardly" act of terrorism. He added, that the act of opening fire on a restaurant filled with innocent civilians "only strengthens our resolve to fight terrorism in all of its forms, wherever it exists."

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders also condemned the attack.

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