Mali’s army says raid near capital was jihadist ‘suicide’ attack
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A dawn raid Friday on a key garrison town near the Malian capital was carried out by jihadist “suicide” attackers aboard two explosive-laden vehicles, Mali’s army said.
In a statement, Mali’s military headquarters said the armed forces had “contained… a desperate attempt” by Katiba Macina, a group affiliated with al-Qaeda, to attack an army depot at Kati, 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Bamako.
The attack on the Kati military base near Bamako began at 5am local time with two vehicles packed with explosives, said the Malian army in a Twitter post.
“The provisional death toll is two assailants neutralised. The situation is under control and clearing operations are under way to flush out the authors and their accomplices,” said the army.
Les Forces Armées Maliennes ont vigoureusement repoussé une attaque terroriste contre la caserne de Kati. C’était tôt ce matin aux environs de 05h00 avec 02 véhicules piégés bourrés d’explosifs.
— Forces Armées Maliennes (@FAMa_DIRPA) July 22, 2022
Residents from the area said they were woken up around 5am on Friday by gunfire and explosions.
“We don’t know what’s going on,” a resident told AFP. Another source told AFP, “Our base is being attacked.”
At 8am local time, an AFP journalist also heard detonations that came from inside the camp.
Malian special forces personnel were deployed in the area, and two helicopters flew overhead.
The French embassy sent text messages to French nationals saying “attack underway at Kati” and urging caution.
Military base at heart of past coups
The Kati base is the nexus of the Mali’s military apparatus. The base was the site of mutinies in 2012 and 2020 that led to successful coups,
The impoverished landlocked country is governed by a junta headed by Colonel Assimi Goita, who forced out the elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, in August 2020 and carried out a second coup the following May.
The junta staged a second coup in 2021 to force out a civilian interim president who was at odds with Goita.
Goita then became interim president. He plans to continue to lead a transitional government until elections are held in 2024.
His government has sparred repeatedly with neighbouring countries and international powers over election delays, alleged army abuses and cooperation with Russian mercenaries in the fight against the Islamist insurgency.
Despite coming to power pledging to stamp out the insurrection, the junta has been unable to prevent the insurgents from extending their operations further south from their havens in the north and centre.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and Reuters)