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Who's behind deadly Mali restaurant attack? (+video)

The Islamist group al-Mourabitoun claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack in Mali that killed five people, including two foreigners. 

Militants kill five in Mali attack

Militants killed five people, including a French citizen and a Belgian security officer, in a gun attack on a restaurant in Mali's capital in the early hours of Saturday, authorities said.

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

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Alakhbar, which is often sent statements by Islamist militants in Mali, said it had received a video it would post later in the day.

Al-Mourabitoun was formed by veteran jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who is a target of French forces hunting down al-Qaeda-linked militants in the Sahel-Sahara region.

Mali's desert north, where French forces wrested control of territory from separatist rebels and al Qaeda-linked fighters, is plagued by frequent attacks. But this is the first such attack for years in Bamako in the south and raises fears that the capital will become targeted more by militants.

The dead also included three Malians, the government said. The attack on La Terrasse restaurant, which is popular with expatriates, began at around 1 a.m. (0100 GMT) and left nine people wounded, said a senior security official.

"There were two individuals who were armed and hooded. One burst into the La Terrasse restaurant and opened fire on people. Then he got into a vehicle in which the other was waiting," said senior police officer Falaye Kanté.

"As they fled down a neighboring street, they shot a Belgian man who was in front of his house. He's dead. Not far away they came across a police vehicle and threw a grenade, killing the driver," he told Reuters.

The Belgian man was a security officer at the European Union's delegation in Bamako, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said.

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Two people were arrested shortly after the attack but a security source said later they were not thought to be responsible.

Two international experts with the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) were among the wounded, according to initial reports, said Mongi Hamdi, U.N. special envoy for the peacekeeping mission to Mali (MINUSMA).

Two Swiss army personnel were wounded and brought to hospital where they are in a stable but critical condition, said a statement from the Swiss Armed Forces International Command.

One worked for UNMAS and the other is part of a fact-finding mission, it said.

NIGHT LIFE

The restaurant is located on one of the busiest streets for night life and entertainment in Bamako.

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta visited the site on Saturday and his government pledged to bring the attackers to justice.

In Paris, French President Francois Hollande's office said he had spoken with Keita and that they had agreed on new "common measures" to reinforce security in Mali. The statement gave no details on the measures.

French forces took control of northern Mali two years ago but insurgents continue to mount attacks. France has more than 3,000 soldiers in West Africa as part of the counter-insurgency force against al Qaeda-linked militants.

Mali's government signed a preliminary peace proposal last Sunday meant to end fighting with northern separatists, but the Tuareg-led rebels demanded more time before agreeing to any accord.

In a separate incident, a crowd in the central Malian town of Gao lynched two men they accused of attempting to launch a grenade attack against a police post, a witness said.

(Additional reporting by Tiemoko Diallo in Bamako, John Irish in Paris, Joshua Franklin in Zurich and Adrian Croft in Riga; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Gareth Jones)


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