"It is a jihadist attack. Malian special forces intervened and about 20 hostages have been released," Salif Traore told AFP. "Unfortunately for the moment there are two dead, including a Franco-Gabonese."
The west African country has been battling a jihadist insurgency for several years, with Islamist fighters roaming the north and centre of Mali.
In November 2015, gunmen took guests and staff hostage at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako in a siege that left at least 20 people dead, including 14 foreigners.
The attack was claimed by Al-Qaeda's North African affiliate Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
A state of emergency has been renewed several times since the Radisson Blu attack, most recently in April when it was extended for six months.
In 2012 Mali's north fell under the control of jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda who hijacked an ethnic Tuareg-led rebel uprising, though the Islamists were largely ousted by a French-led military operation in January 2013.
But jihadists have mounted numerous attacks on civilians and the army, as well as on French and UN forces still stationed there.