Mali restaurant reopens after attack by militants in capital

AP News
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Posted: Mar 15, 2015 12:30 PM

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — A restaurant and bar in Mali's capital has reopened just over one week after it was attacked by Islamic extremists.

Five people including a French citizen and a Belgian national were killed in the attack at La Terrasse on March 7, the first of its kind in Bamako.

The restaurant's owner, Wahid Assy, said Malian authorities urged him to reopen quickly, vowing to ensure its security.

"Malian authorities and friends and clients encouraged us to open the bar," Assy said. "One must not yield to the fear of terrorism."

Though there was not a visible security presence at the establishment, Assy said authorities vowed to protect the restaurant using "discreet" measures, including sending soldiers and police in civilian clothing.

Officials had long feared an attack in Bamako, which is in Mali's south. Mali's northern half came under the control of al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremists following a military coup in 2012. A French-led intervention in early 2013 scattered the extremists, though the north remains insecure.

Al Mourabitoun, or The Sentinels, a northern Mali jihadist group allied with al-Qaida, quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a Mauritanian news website that often receives messages from Malian extremists.

Following the attack, security was ramped up in the city's government district and outside diplomatic missions, and cars approaching ministry buildings are now being thoroughly searched.

Bamako remains on edge, however, and experts question whether the security forces can prevent future attacks.

On Friday, a man believed to have served as the driver in the attack on La Terrasse was killed by special forces while resisting arrest.