Mali Interim Leader Says He’s “Well” After Assassination Attempt
By Staff, Agencies
Malian strongman Colonel Assimi Goita survived an assassination attempt at a mosque in Bamako on Tuesday, in the latest blow to stability in a country reeling from two military coups in less than a year.
An assailant wielding a knife attacked Goita after prayers at the capital's Grand Mosque for the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha, an AFP journalist saw.
Goita, a special forces colonel who was named transitional president in May, was quickly whisked away by security.
The journalist saw blood at the scene, although it was unclear who was wounded.
Goita later appeared on the state broadcaster ORTM, where he said he was doing "very well".
"That's part of being a leader, there are always malcontents," he said, wearing a blue hat and shiny blue gown.
"There are people who at any time may want to try things to cause instability."
Security had subdued the attacker, and "investigations are ongoing," the presidency said.
In a tweet, the French embassy in Mali said it "strongly condemns" what it called "a shocking act which has occurred on a special day of peace and tolerance."
Mali's former colonial ruler France called "for serenity for the continuation of the transition to its conclusion".
The assailant went for the president as an imam was directing worshippers outside the Great Mosque for a ritual animal sacrifice.
Religious Affairs Minister Mamadou Kone, who was at the mosque, told AFP that a man had "tried to kill the president with a knife" but was apprehended.
The mosque's director, Latus Toure, said an attacker had lunged at the president but wounded someone else.
Later, a security official who requested anonymity said that two people had been initially arrested.
Sadio Tomoda, chief of Bamako's third police district, told AFP the second man arrested was a special forces member armed with a pistol who had not been recognized in the confusion.
He added that the solo attacker was a "teacher", without giving further details.
Bamako was calm after the assault, according to AFP journalists, including in the area surrounding the mosque.