Attack outside Mali’s capital kills 6, wounds others

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Gunmen attacked a Malian army checkpoint outside Bamako, killing at least six people and wounding several others, officials said Friday, raising concerns as attacks by jihadist groups move closer to the capital.

“Last night, the post of Zantiguila was the target of an attack by unidentified gunmen,” said Amadou Sangho, spokesman for Mali’s Ministry of Security and Civil Protection. The post is about 60 kilometers from Bamako.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bears the mark of the al-Qaida-linked group known as JNIM that has carried out several other attacks around Bamako.

“The Zantiguila attack shows how the al-Qaida affiliate Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin continues to expand its operations outside its traditional strongholds in northern and central Mali,” said Héni Nsaibia, a senior researcher at The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. “As in other Sahelian countries such as Burkina Faso and Niger, although to a lesser extent in the latter, major cities including the capitals themselves, are increasingly surrounded by a steady spread of Islamist militancy that poses an ever-increasing risk and challenge to the security environment.”

Mali has struggled to contain an Islamic extremist insurgency since 2012. Extremist rebels were forced from power in Mali’s northern cities with the help of a French-led military operation, but they regrouped in the desert and began attacking the Malian army and its allies. Insecurity has worsened with attacks in the northern and central regions.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.