A jihadist group run by a leading Algerian militant claimed responsibility Saturday for the deaths of five people in an attack on a nightclub popular with foreigners in the Malian capital Bamako.
A spokesman for the Al-Murabitoun group, headed by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, made the claim in an audio recording carried by the Mauritanian news agency Al-Akbar, which frequently publishes what it says are statements from jihadist groups.
"We claim responsibility for the latest operation in Bamako carried out by brave combatants from Al-Murabitoun to avenge our prophet against the unbelieving West which has insulted and mocked him," the recording said, also mentioning the killing by French troops of a militant called Ahmed Telemsi.
At least one masked gunman entered the nightclub in the Malian capital around 1:00 am (0100 GMT) and sprayed the venue with automatic gunfire and threw grenades, witnesses said.
The dead included two Europeans and a Malian policeman.
The Mali government described the massacre as a "terrorist" attack by "those who have no other goal than to push away the prospect of peace" -- a statement seen as referring to jihadists who operate across swaths of the desert north.