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Mali’s transitional President survives knife attack in Bamako mosque

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Mali’s interim president, Assimi Goita, on Tuesday morning survived a knife attack at the Great Mosque of Bamako during the Eid-al-Adha prayer.

Reports said that two men, one of whom was holding a knife, lunged at him at the mosque.

It was not immediately clear whether he was wounded, but his security aides quickly evacuated him from the scene.

However, his office released a statement that said he was “safe and sound.”

Goita arrived at the military camp of Kati, outside the capital, “where security has been reinforced,” the official said.

The Religious Affairs Minister, Mamadou Kone, confirmed that a man had “tried to kill the president with a knife” but was apprehended.

The director of the mosque, Latus Toure, said the attacker ended up wounding someone else.

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“The attacker was immediately overpowered by security. Investigations are ongoing,” the presidency said.

Idrissa Kone, a caretaker at the mosque, said he had seen an attacker approach the president and the president and his security guards draw their weapons.

The shocking attack follows months of political turmoil in Mali, which is also battling a jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Goita was sworn into power in June, after leading the country’s second coup in less than a year.

The colonel had already led a putsch last August when he and other army officers ousted elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after weeks of mass protests over corruption and the long-running jihadist conflict.

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The second coup in nine months sparked diplomatic uproar, prompting the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to suspend Mali, calling for the appointment of a civilian prime minister.

France, which has thousands of troops stationed in the war-torn country, also suspended military cooperation with Mali.

The former colonial power followed by announcing that it would wind down its 5,100-strong Barkhane force that has battled jihadists in the Sahel since 2013.

The military junta handed power to a civilian-led transitional government, which promised to restore civilian rule in February 2022.

In June it unveiled its new government, appointing military figures in key roles.

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Goita vowed that the government would “uphold all its commitments”, pledging to stage “credible, fair and transparent elections”.

A large majority of the 15-nation UN’s Security Council later called for free and fair elections to go ahead in the country without the participation of its current leaders.

Mali also faces unrest outside the political arena.

It has been struggling to contain a jihadist insurgency that first emerged in the north of the country in 2012, and has since spread to Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.

The conflict has also been mirrored by political instability in the capital.

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