Militants attack key military base in Mali, situation ‘under control’

KATI, MALI, July 22 (Reuters) – Islamist militants attacked Mali’s main military base outside the capital Bamako on Friday in a complex attack involving car bombs. .

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

Heavy gunfire rang out in Kati camp, about 15 km (10 miles) northwest of Bamako, for about an hour early Friday morning. A convoy carrying Mali’s army chief, Col. Azimi Koita, then sped from his home in Kadi in the direction of Bamako, a Reuters reporter said.

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The military said in a statement that the attack involved two car bombs and was carried out by Katiba Masina, a local affiliate of al Qaeda, which is most active in central Mali.

One soldier died and six were injured in the attack, while seven attackers were killed and eight arrested.

“Army personnel would like to reassure people that the situation is under control and it can carry out its operations,” the army said.

After the attack, soldiers shot and killed a man outside the camp after his vehicle disobeyed their orders to stop, witnesses told Reuters. The other occupant of the vehicle fled, they said.

The military blamed Katiba Masina for launching several attacks against bases in central Mali on Thursday, which it said killed one soldier and wounded 15 others.

Kati was the site of uprisings in 2012 and 2020 that led to successful coups, but this time it did not appear as if the fighters were fighting among themselves, camp residents told Reuters.

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Mali’s ruling junta came to power in an August 2020 coup. It staged a second coup in 2021 to oust a civilian interim president at odds with Kueda.

Qaida’s interim government has repeatedly accused neighbors and international powers of delaying elections, military abuses and collaborating with Russian mercenaries in the fight against Islamist insurgency.

Despite coming to power promising to crush the insurgency, the military junta was unable to prevent the rebels from extending their operations further south.

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

The only major attack to hit Bamako was in 2015 when Al Qaeda-linked militants killed 20 people at a luxury hotel.

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

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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