Attack targets main military base near Mali's Bamako
Islamist attacks are recurrent in Mali, and this time a Kati military base just 15 km away from the capital Bamako is targeted.
In what camp residents claimed to be an attack by Islamist militants, heavy gunfire was heard early on Friday at the major military base outside of Mali's capital Bamako before ceasing after nearly an hour.
Before 0600 GMT, the firing stopped, and helicopters began to circle above the Kati base, which is roughly 15 km from Bamako.
Colonel Assimi Goita, the head of Mali's junta, was subsequently seen leaving his Kati home in a convoy and traveling toward Bamako, according to a Reuters correspondent.
Despite the fact that Kati was the scene of successful coups in 2012 and 2020 as a result of mutinies, three camp residents who requested to remain anonymous said the troops did not seem to be fighting among themselves.
Islamist militants linked to Al-Qaeda and IS have recurrently attacked army bases throughout the country during an insurgency that has been ongoing for a decade, however, this is the first time that they get this close to the capital.
According to the army, Al-Qaeda-linked militants had staged coordinated attacks targeting several military camps at an earlier time of the day. These attacks, which took place several hundred kilometers north of Bamako, left one soldier dead and about 15 wounded.
On Friday, a representative from the presidency declined to comment and the military spokesperson for Mali was not immediately available.
Mali to halt all new UN peacekeeping rotations
Mali said Thursday that for "national security" reasons, rotations of the UN's peacekeeping mission will be suspended, in the most recent complication in relations between the ruling junta and international partners.
Rotations of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) mission are being suspended, including those already scheduled, the Foreign Ministry in Bamako said.
In a statement, the Ministry added that the suspension will last until a meeting is held to "facilitate the coordination and regulation" of the rotation of contingents.
The announcement did not clarify the reasons for the move that came four days after Mali arrested 49 Ivorian soldiers it described as "mercenaries" having the intention to overthrow the country's military-led government.
The soldiers are National Support Elements (NSE), a UN procedure allowing peacekeeping contingents to use outside contractors for logistical duties. They were arrested after arriving at Bamako airport aboard a special flight, and they comprised the eighth rotation under this scheme, according to Ivory Coast.
Mali's statement did not refer to their arrest or give a date for talks to discuss MINUSMA rotations, but it assured the UN mission that Mali would "work diligently to create conditions conducive to the lifting of this suspension of rotation, which is an essential step in enabling the deployed contingents to ensure the proper implementation of MINUSMA's mandate."
MINUSMA has been in Mali since 2013 after the Sahel region plunged into chaos after Al Qaeda-linked extremists seized northern Mali in 2012.
Since its inception, MINUSMA has reported over 275 fatalities, one of the highest among all UN peacekeeping missions
Of these attacks, 177 deaths were the result of hostile acts, the latest of which was against the Egyptian contingent on July 5, when two peacekeepers died and five were critically injured near Gao, in northern Mali.
A UN official in Bamako said Egypt contributed 1,035 out of 12,261 UN peacekeeping troops in Mali.
"It is one of the mission's biggest contingents," he said.
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