Mali de­tec­tives un­cover ‘ma­jor attack’ plot

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY SERGE DANIEL

De­tec­tives in­ves­ti­gat­ing an ex­plo­sion at a house in Mali’s cap­i­tal that killed a se­cu­rity guard on Fri­day said they had un­cov­ered plans for a “ma­jor attack”.

Se­cu­rity forces said they were alerted when the blast ripped through and “largely de­stroyed” the pri­vate res­i­dence in Si­rakoro Megue­tana, on the south­east­ern out­skirts of Ba­mako.

“This is a ma­jor attack that was be­ing read­ied,” a po­lice source said, adding that the Burk­in­abe owner of the house was ar­rested at the scene and was be­gin­ning to give up de­tails of the plot.

Po­lice found det­o­na­tors in the wrecked prop­erty, ac­cord­ing to Moussa Diallo, an in­spec­tor at the scene, while of­fi­cers and neigh­bors iden­ti­fied a body as a Malian man em­ployed to guard the prop­erty.

Po­lice said ex­plo­sives at the house had been mis­han­dled, although they were not able to say im­me­di­ately what type of ma­te­rial was be­hind the ex­plo­sion.

Three by­standers were wounded by the blast, po­lice said, but their con­di­tion was not im­me­di­ately clear.

An AFP cor­re­spon­dent wit­nessed mine clear­ance per­son­nel from MI­NUSMA, the United Na­tions peace­keep­ing force in Mali, work­ing at the cor­doned-off scene.

“For us, this is a ter­ror­ist act in prepa­ra­tion. The ter­ror­ists were get­ting ready to ter­ror­ize,” a MI­NUSMA source told AFP.

Se­cu­rity sources and nearby res­i­dents said the house was sit­u­ated op­po­site the prop­erty of a French na­tional who had been evac­u­ated un­hurt, although it was not clear if the ex­pa­tri­ate was the in­tended tar-

get of the plot.

Is­lamist Move­ments

“In­ves­ti­ga­tions are on­go­ing to de­ter­mine whether the French na­tional was the tar­get or not,” a se­cu­rity source told AFP.

The in­ci­dent will heighten anx­i­eties among Ba­mako’s ex­pa­tri­ate com­mu­nity a month af­ter heav­il­yarmed mil­i­tants struck La Ter­rasse, a fa­vored nightspot among for­eign­ers, killing three Malians, a French­man and a Bel­gian.

Re­spon­si­bil­ity for that attack was claimed by Al-Mura­bitoun, a ji­hadist group led by one-eyed Al­ge­rian mil­i­tant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who is wanted for ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties in sev­eral coun­tries.

His move­ment said it had struck in re­sponse to the pub­li­ca­tion in France of car­toons de­pict­ing the Prophet Mo­hammed.

One of the al­leged as­sailants was shot dead re­sist­ing ar­rest in the fol­low­ing days, the gov­ern­ment said, while spe­cial agents ar­rested three sus­pected ac­com­plices al­most two weeks af­ter the attack.

A po­lice source said in­ves­ti­ga­tors were look­ing into a pos­si­ble link be­tween the scene of Fri­day’s ex­plo­sion and a prop­erty raided in Sa­manko, north­east of Ba­mako, where weapons were dis­cov­ered be­fore the night­club attack.

France has been seen as a tar­get for Is­lamist move­ments in Mali since it led an in­ter­na­tional mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion to drive them from the main cities of the north­ern desert in 2013.

The ji­hadists had seized con­trol of key north­ern towns, in­clud­ing the fa­bled Tim­buktu, where they de­stroyed priceless ar­ti­facts and im­posed a bru­tal in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Is­lamic law.

Mil­i­tants from al-Qaida in the Is­lamic Maghreb de­cap­i­tated a Malian in March that they ac­cused of aid­ing France’s anti-ji­hadist op­er­a­tion in the re­gion, ac­cord­ing to se­cu­rity sources.

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