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Mali: Assimi Goïta's chief of staff killed in an ambush

Mali: Assimi Goïta's chief of staff killed in an ambush
Colonel Assimi Goita at the Ministry of Defense in Bamako, Mali, August 22, 2020   -  
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AP/Copyright 2020 The AP


The chief of staff of Colonel Assimi Goïta, president of Mali's military-dominated transition, was among four people killed in an attack on Tuesday near the Mauritanian border, said a note from the presidency authenticated by AFP on Thursday.

According to the document, Oumar Traoré, Colonel Goïta 's chief of staff, was in the delegation victim of an ambush near the town of Nara, in a region plagued by jihadist attacks. The funeral takes place on Thursday in Kati, a garrison town near the capital Bamako, the same source said.

The note reveals the identities of the other three victims, a security guard, a contractor, and a driver. She also gives the name of another driver who is missing.

The delegation of "social works of the president" had come to prospect the drilling of wells for the local populations near the city of Nara, not far from the forest of Wagadou, known to shelter jihadists.

The unclaimed ambush in which the official delegation fell on Tuesday was revealed on Wednesday, but the identity of the victims had not been communicated until then.

An administrative official in the region told AFP that "the mission did not have an adequate escort". A local elected official, for his part, warned of the security situation on site, which is deteriorating day by day.

An attack on such a high-ranking official is rare and significant. “While it is not yet clear if this is a targeted killing, it is certainly a concern for (the government),” said Rida Lyammouri, a senior fellow at the Policy Center for the New South, a Morocco-based think tank.

"Authorities should devote more resources to preventing large-scale attacks, including those that could target the capital," Lyammouri added.

Mali has been plagued by jihadist spread and violence of all kinds since the outbreak of rebellions in the north of the country in 2012. Despite the presence of international forces, this violence has spread to the center of the country and to Burkina Faso and the neighboring Niger. The phenomenon progresses towards the south.

The security turmoil goes hand in hand with a deep humanitarian and political crisis. The colonels who took power by force in 2020 pushed the military alliance with France and its partners to pieces in 2022 and turned to Russia.

The colonels in power have pledged under international pressure to hand over to civilians by March 2024.

Assimi Goïta validated in March a draft Constitution which must be submitted to a referendum on a date yet to be defined and asked political actors and civil society to explain the issues throughout the territory.

Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maïga had recently been satisfied with the freedom of movement of the authorities, found according to him throughout the country. But he had been forced to give up stages of his visit to the north of the country due to insecurity.

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