BAMAKO, Mali (AP) – A man attempted to stab Mali’s interim president Colonel Assimi Goita at the Grand Mosque in the capital on Tuesday during Eid al-Adha, the Muslim sacrifice holiday celebrations.
The attempted stabbing took place after the holiday prayers and the sermon in the mosque, and the imam went to slaughter the sheep, according to testimony. A man with a knife and another with a weapon participated in the attack, the witnesses said. Goita was not injured and his security team quickly took him away, but one person was said to be injured.
This attempted attack on the interim president stems from the fact that Mali has seen several attacks by jihadists in the central part of the country in the past few days.
Colonel Assimi Goita seized power in August 2020 by overthrowing the democratically elected President of Mali. He eventually agreed to a transitional government led by a civilian president and prime minister, but ousted these civilian leaders on May 24 after announcing a cabinet reshuffle that marginalized two junta supporters without consulting.
In June Goita was sworn in as president of the transitional government. He has promised to keep the country on track to return to civil rule with an election in February 2022.
Mali has been unsettled since 2012 when mutinous soldiers overthrew the president for a decade. The power vacuum resulted in an Islamic uprising that took control of the country’s northern cities, including Timbuktu and Gao. A campaign led by France drove the jihadists out of northern cities in 2013.
A peace agreement was signed in 2015 by three parties – the government, a coalition of groups seeking autonomy in northern Mali, and a militia affiliated with the government.
However, the insurgents quickly regrouped in the desert areas and began frequent attacks on the Malian army and its allies. The extremists linked to al-Qaeda and the militant group Islamic State have moved from the arid north to the more populous center of Mali since 2015, where their presence has fueled hostility and inter-ethnic violence.
AP author Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal, contributed to this.
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