Mali: gunfire heard at main military base, residents suspect militant attack

After the artillery fire subsided at about 06:00 Moscow time, the helicopters flew around the Katya base, which is about 15 km from Bamako. According to a Reuters correspondent, a column with the leader of the ruling junta in Mali, Colonel Assimi Goita left his house in Kati in the direction of Bamako.

Kati was the site of riots in 2012 and 2020 that led to successful coups, but three camp residents, who asked not to be named, said the soldiers did not appear to be fighting among themselves.

Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have repeatedly attacked army bases across the country during the decade-long insurgency, but never so close to the capital.

The army said late Thursday that al-Qaeda-linked militants staged coordinated attacks earlier in the day on several military camps several hundred kilometers north of Bamako, killing one soldier and injuring 15.

Western troops led by France withdraw from Mali

Mali’s military representative was not immediately available for comment on Friday, and a presidential spokesman declined to comment.

The Malian junta came to power in August 2020 coup it started as a mutiny at Katya’s base. It suited second coup in 2021 to oust a civilian interim president who did not get along with Goita.

Goita then became interim president. He plans to continue leading the transitional government until elections in 2024.

His government has repeatedly clashed with neighboring countries and international powers over election delays, alleged abuses by the army, and cooperation with Russian mercenaries against Islamist insurgents.

Although the junta vowed to quell the uprising when it came to power, it was unable to stop the rebels from expanding their operations further south from their hideouts in the north and center.

Last week, unidentified gunmen killed six people at a checkpoint just 70 kilometers east of Bamako.