Mali: the army repels a jihadist attack at the gates of the capital

The provisional toll is one Malian soldier killed and six wounded, including a civilian. Seven assailants are “neutralized”, and eight were arrested. This is the first terrorist attack targeted at the strategic base of Kati.

The Malian army said Friday, July 22 to have repelled a “terrorist” attack attributed to jihadist suicide bombers who killed at least one soldier at the gates of the capital Bamako, in the garrison town of Kati, heart of the military apparatus and residence of the leader of the ruling junta.

“The Malian armed forces have just contained another desperate attempt by terrorists from the Katiba Macina”, affiliated with the jihadist group al-Qaeda, “who, early this morning, at around 05:00 (local and GMT) attempted kamikaze actions with two car bombs packed with explosives against an installation of the direction of the material, hydrocarbons and transport of the armies”, declared the Staff of the Malian armies in a press release.
Very degraded security situation

The provisional toll of this attack is one Malian soldier killed and six wounded, including a civilian, and 7 assailants “neutralized”, 8 arrested and a lot of material recovered, the statement continued. Very early on, several residents told AFP of an “attack” targeting the Kati base. “We were woken up by gunshots at 5 a.m. and the sound of explosions,” said a resident on condition of anonymity.

“The situation is under control and the search is underway to flush out the perpetrators and their accomplices,” the army said in the morning on its Facebook page. The helicopters that flew over the military base after the attack landed and the inhabitants resumed their occupations in the city, noted an AFP journalist at midday. The strategic base of Kati, located only about fifteen kilometers from Bamako, has never been directly targeted by a jihadist attack.

The current military authorities had seized power by force on August 18, 2020 in Kati, before “descending” to Bamako. It is also in Kati – where Colonel Assimi Goïta, president of the transition and his powerful Minister of Defense, Colonel Sadio Camara – reside that the personalities arrested during the coups are systematically retained. Despite a very degraded security situation, the junta turned away from France and its partners, preferring to rely on Russia to try to stem the spread of jihadism which has spread to a large part of the country as well as Burkina Faso. and neighboring Niger.
Coordinated attacks

This attack came the day after a series of almost simultaneous raids attributed to jihadists in six different localities in Mali, in the regions of Koulikoro (near Bamako) as well as Ségou and Mopti (center). At dawn Thursday, at the same time as the shootings this Friday, armed men identified by the army as members of the Katiba Macina attacked checkpoints, gendarmerie, military camp, in particular in the locality of Kolokani, a hundred kilometers north of Bamako.

It was the first time since 2012 that such coordinated attacks have taken place so close to the capital in the middle of the rainy season. But the frequency of attacks targeting regions of southern Mali, previously spared, has increased for several months. Mali, a poor and landlocked country in the heart of the Sahel, has been caught in a spiral of multifaceted violence for ten years.
ISIS jihadists

First in the grip of a conflict with separatist rebel groups, which have since signed a peace agreement in 2015, the country faces a multitude of armed groups affiliated with global jihadist nebulae. The main coalition is the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM, JNIM in Arabic), affiliated with al-Qaeda and led by Iyad Ag Ghali. The GSIM, whose influence on the ground continues to expand, includes a myriad of groups including the Katiba Macina and operates mainly in Mali and Burkina Faso.

Also present are jihadists affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) organization, settled in the so-called three-border area between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger as well as on the border between Mali and Niger. Added to the incessant violence is a tense political situation between the junta and its Western and regional partners, tinged with repeated diplomatic hiccups.
Economic sanctions

With France, first, which Mali pushed towards the exit at the beginning of 2022 after nine years of military presence in the country, via Operation Serval then Barkhane. Then with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which for six months harshly sanctioned Mali for failing to respect its commitments, in particular on the sensitive issue of the return of civilians to power.

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