Bamako - Malian army troops surrounded a hotel that had been stormed by jihadists on Friday in the central town of Sevare as the soldiers tried to save people trapped inside, a defense ministry adviser said.Several people were dead, including soldiers and Islamic extremists in the attack on the Hotel Debo, said a resident.It was the latest in a string of attacks this year by extremists - who three years ago controlled most of northern Mali - in central and southern parts of this African country."There are people inside the hotel that we are trying to save," said Lt Col Diarran Kone, the defence ministry adviser.The jihadists exchanged fire with the army, said Mali Army spokesperson Colonel Souleymane Maiga.Moussa Bah, the owner of a hotel nearby, said he was told by military personnel that several people have been killed, including jihadists and soldiers. He said the hotel is frequented by pilots with the United Nations peacekeeping mission.Smoke was coming from the hotel, said another resident who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of his safety."This morning as I was leaving for work I heard shots and saw smoke coming from the Hotel Debo. The area is surrounded by soldiers who told us to return to our homes," he said.On Saturday, an ambush on a convoy killed two soldiers in central Mali.In March, a masked gunman opened fire at a restaurant popular with foreigners in Bamako, the capital, killing five people. In June, gunmen killed three soldiers in a village near the Mauritania border. The next day extremists briefly occupied a village near Ivory Coast. Ansar Dine said it was behind those attacks.Mali's north fell under the control of Islamic extremists amid a military coup in 2012. A French-led military intervention in 2013 regained control of the north.