Man attempts to stab Mali’s interim leader at Grand Mosque

A man has tried to stab Mali’s transitional president, Col Assimi Goïta, during Eid al-Adha celebrations at the Grand Mosque in Bamako.

Witnesses said the incident happened after the imam went to slaughter sheep at the mosque in the capital. One man with a knife and another with a gun participated in the attack, the witnesses said.

Goïta was not hurt and his security team quickly took him away, but one person was injured, they said.

Central Mali has been the target of several attacks by jihadis in recent days.

Goïta grabbed power in August 2020 by overthrowing the democratically elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. He eventually agreed to a transitional government led by a civilian president and prime minister but on 24 May he ousted those civilian leaders after they announced a cabinet reshuffle that sidelined two junta supporters without consulting him.

Goïta was then sworn in as president of the transitional government in June. He has pledged to keep the country on track to return to civilian rule with an election in February 2022.

Mali has been unsettled since 2012 when mutinous soldiers overthrew the president of a decade, Amadou Toumani Touré. The power vacuum led to an Islamic insurgency that took control of the country’s northern cities, including Timbuktu and Gao. A French-led campaign ousted the jihadis from the northern cities in 2013.

A peace agreement was signed in 2015 by three parties – the government, a coalition of groups that seek autonomy in northern Mali, and a pro-government militia.

However, the insurgents quickly regrouped in the desert areas and began launching frequent attacks on the Malian army and its allies.

The extremists, affiliated with al-Qaida and Islamic State, have moved from the arid north to the more populous central Mali since 2015 where their presence has stoked animosity and violence between ethnic groups.

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