Malian police stand guard in an armored vehicle 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)

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At least two people were killed in an attack by gunmen on Sunday at a luxury resort outside Mali's capital Bamako popular with Western expatriates, the Security Ministry said.

Gunmen stormed Le Campement Kangaba in Dougourakoro, to the east of the capital Bamako, a resort foreign residents often visit for weekend breaks. There were no details of casualties but the attack was continuing on Sunday evening.

"Security forces are in place. Campement Kangaba is blocked off and an operation is under way," Security Ministry spokesman Baba Cisse said by telephone. "The situation is under control."

However, he said two people had been killed, including a French-Gabonese citizen and another whose nationality was not yet known, he said.

Witness Boubacar Sangare was just outside the compound during the attack. "Westerners were fleeing the encampment while two plainclothes police exchanged fire with the assailants," he said.

"There were four national police vehicles and French soldiers in armored vehicles on the scene." A helicopter was circling overhead, he said.

A spokesman for French forces in Mali declined to immediately comment.

Security has gradually worsened across Mali since French forces pushed back allied Islamist and Tuareg rebel fighters in 2013 from swathes of the north they had occupied the previous year.

Initially concentrated in the desert north, attacks have increasingly struck the center and south, around the capital Bamako. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and another militant group claimed responsibility for an attack on a Bamako hotel in late 2015 in which 20 people were killed.

French troops and a 10,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force have battled to stabilize the former French colony, which is riven by ethnic conflict and plagued by dozens of armed groups.

© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

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