Two armed men, including one who wielded a knife, on Tuesday attacked Mali’s interim President Assimi Goita during Muslim Eid Mubarak festival payers in the nation’s capital Bamako, official sources confirmed.
Eyewitnesses and diplomatic sources reported several arrests had been made and that Col. Goita, 37, had been removed from the scene of the attack at the Great Mosque in Bamako and was “safe and well.”
At least one worshipper was injured, and it was unclear whether Goita was hurt, but an official investigation has been launched into the incident, according to the sources.
In August 2020, Col. Goita led a coup against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s government, and in May of last year, he led a coup against a transition government in which he served as Vice President.
However, Goita has consistently pledged to adhere to the political transition timetable, which includes holding a referendum in October and general elections in February 2022 to return the country to civilian rule.
Mali has been suffering from terrorism, separatist and jihadist insurgencies since 2012, which have spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
In spite of the presence of some 15,000 UN Mission in Mali, MINUSA, and more than 5,000 French forces in the region, hundreds of soldiers and civilians have been killed with hundreds of thousands of others displaced in the deadly insecurity in Mali and the Sahel region.
Nigeria’s former President Goodluck Jonathan, the ECOWAS chief mediator on the Mali crisis, has undertaken several peace missions to Bamako.
An AU delegation just-ended consultations with Malian Prime Minister Choguel Maiga, who had assured that the transition programme was progressing.
The knife attack in Mali on Tuesday highlights the country’s precarious political and security situation.