Militants attack Mali’s main military base, situation ‘under control’

KATI, Mali, July 22 (Reuters) – Suspected Islamist militants attacked the main military base where Mali’s interim president lives outside the capital Bamako on Friday, but the armed forces said they repelled the assault and brought the situation under control.

Al-Qaeda and Islamic State-linked militants have repeatedly attacked military bases across Mali during a decade-long insurgency concentrated in the north and center but never so close to Bamako in the south. south.

Heavy gunfire rang out for about an hour early Friday at Kati camp, about 15 km (10 miles) from Bamako. A convoy carrying Mali’s junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita then left his home in Kati heading for Bamako, a Reuters reporter said.

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“The Malian Armed Forces vigorously repelled a terrorist attack against the Kati base. It was early this morning around 5 a.m. with two car bombs,” the army said in a tweet.

The military and government generally label the country’s Islamist insurgents as terrorists.

“The provisional toll is two assailants neutralized. The situation is under control and clearing operations are underway to flush out the perpetrators and their accomplices.”

Kati was the scene of mutinies in 2012 and 2020 that led to successful coups, but three camp residents, who asked not to be identified, said the soldiers did not appear to be fighting each other.

The army said late Thursday that al-Qaeda-linked militants staged coordinated attacks on several military camps earlier in the day in central Mali, killing one soldier and injuring 15.

Mali’s junta came to power in an August 2020 coup that began with a mutiny at the Kati base. He staged a second coup in 2021 to oust an interim civilian president who disagreed with Goita.

Goita then became interim president. He plans to continue leading a transitional government until elections are held in 2024.

His government has repeatedly clashed with neighboring countries and international powers over election delays, alleged military abuses and cooperation with Russian mercenaries in the fight against the Islamist insurgency.

Despite coming to power pledging to stamp out the insurgency, the junta was unable to prevent the insurgents from expanding their operations further south.

Last week, unidentified gunmen killed six people at a checkpoint just 70 km east of Bamako. Read more

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Reporting by Fadimata Kontao; Additional reporting and writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Edmund Blair, John Stonestreet and Nick Macfie

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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