Mali: Al-Qaeda affiliate claims deadly attack
An armed group in Mali affiliated with al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on the country’s main Kati military base near the capital city Bamako, which it said was a response to governmental collaboration with Russian mercenaries.
Friday’s (22 July) raid on the Kati base that killed at least one soldier and wounded six others, was the first time in Mali’s decade-long rebellion that an armed group has hit a military camp so close to Bamako. The attack, which was carried out using two car bombs, saw seven assailants killed and eight were arrested, Mali’s military said. The Katiba Macina claimed the attack in the strategic garrison town near the Malian capital, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, according to the media unit for al-Qaeda’s local affiliate, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM). JNIM, the main armed alliance in the Sahel region whose influence on the ground continues to expand, comprises a myriad of groups including the Katiba Macina and operates mainly in Mali and Burkina Faso.
Katiba Macina justified the attack by citing the presence in Mali of mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group, which began supplying hundreds of fighters last year to support the Malian military and has since been accused by human rights groups and locals of participating in massacres of civilians. The Russian government has acknowledged Wagner personnel are in Mali, but the Malian government has described them as instructors from the Russian military rather than private security contractors. Wagner has no public representation and has not commented on the accusations of human rights violations. A spat with France triggered a pullout of French forces that have been fighting rebels in Mali for nearly a decade. The withdrawal is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.