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French and Malian special forces are conducting a joint military operation after suspected jihadists stormed a luxury resort in Dougourakoro, Western Mali. Mali's security minister has confirmed two fatalities so far, AFP reports.

"The first victim was a French-Gabonese citizen. We are in the process of confirming the other's nationality," said Baba Cisse, a security ministry spokesman, as cited by Reuters.

Approximately 20 hostages seized in the Bamako resort attack have been freed, according to the Malian security minister, as cited by AFP.

Gunmen attacked the Campement Kangaba luxury resort in Dougourakoro, near the capital, Bamako, on Sunday afternoon, though the security operation is still under way, according to the Malian Security Ministry. The resort is a popular destination for expats and western tourists alike.

Soldiers from France's Bakhane counter-terrorist force have setup a security cordon in conjunction with local authorities.

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

The US Embassy in Bamako issued a warning June 9 of a potential attack in the near future.

"The US Embassy informs US citizens of a possible increased threat of attacks against Western diplomatic missions, places of worship, and other locations in Bamako where Westerners frequent. Avoid vulnerable locations with poor security measures in place, including hotels, restaurants and churches."

Mali has been battling a jihadist insurgency in the central and northern regions of the country for years.

Jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) seized control of northern Mali in 2012, taking advantage of a rebel uprising in the region. However, the insurgency was quashed by a French-led military offensive in January 2013.

In November 2015, 20 people died after gunmen took guests and staff hostage at the Radisson Blu hotel in the capital. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack.

A force of 10,000 UN peacekeeping troops, including a large contingent of French soldiers, has battled the insurgency with limited success.