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Mali’s President Says He Was Unharmed in Stabbing Attempt

Brittany Jordan

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BAMAKO, Mali—Mali’s interim President Assimi Goita said he was unharmed after a man tried to stab him Tuesday at the Grand Mosque in the capital amid celebrations for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Goita, a special forces colonel who staged two coups within nine months to become the transitional leader, spoke to the West African nation in a special television broadcast.

“It was an isolated incident that has been brought under control,” he said, saying that he is “fine and no one has been hurt.”

Goita called for national unity in the face of challenges.

“When you are a leader, when you command people, there are some who are discontented,” he said. “There are people who try to do these kinds of things to destabilize.”

The attempted stabbing happened after the holiday prayers and sermon at the mosque and the imam went to slaughter the sheep, according to witnesses. One man with a knife and another with a gun participated in the attack, said the witnesses. Goita’s security team quickly took him away, and two men were arrested, they said.

Security personnel escort an alleged attacker (C) from The Grand Fayçal Mosque in Bamako, Mali, on July 20, 2021. (Emmanuel Daou/AFP via Getty Images)

This attempted attack on the interim president comes as Mali has seen several attacks by jihadis in the central part of the country in recent days.

Goita grabbed power in August 2020 by overthrowing Mali’s democratically elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who had only served two years after his reelection. Goita eventually agreed to a transitional government led by a civilian president, Bah N’Daw, and a prime minister. He served as transitional vice president. Then, on May 24 he ousted those civilian leaders after they announced a Cabinet reshuffle that sidelined two junta supporters without consulting him.

Goita was then sworn in as president of the transitional government in June. He has pledged to keep the country on track to return to civilian rule with an election in February 2022.

Colonel Assimi Goita
Colonel Assimi Goita, leader of two military coups and new interim president, walks during his inauguration ceremony in Bamako, Mali, on June 7, 2021. (Amadou Keita/Reuters)

Mali has been unsettled since 2012 when mutinous soldiers overthrew the president of a decade. The power vacuum led to an Islamic insurgency that took control of the country’s northern cities, including Timbuktu and Gao. A French-led campaign ousted the jihadis from the northern cities in 2013.

A peace agreement was signed in 2015 by three parties—the government, a coalition of groups that seek autonomy in northern Mali, and a pro-government militia.

However, the insurgents quickly regrouped in the desert areas and began launching frequent attacks on the Malian army and its allies. The extremists, affiliated with al-Qaida and the ISIS terrorist group, have moved from the arid north to more populous central Mali since 2015 where their presence has stoked animosity and violence between ethnic groups.

By Baba Ahmed

Brittany Jordan is an award-winning journalist who reports on breaking news in the U.S. and globally for the Federal Inquirer. Prior to her position at the Federal Inquirer, she was a general assignment features reporter for Newsweek, where she wrote about technology, politics, government news and important global events around the world. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Toronto Star, Frederick News-Post, West Hawaii Today, the Miami Herald, and more. Brittany enjoys food, travel, photography, and hoarding notebooks and journals. Her goal is to do more longform features journalism, narrative writing and documentary work, and to one day write a successful novel and screenplay.

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