Assimi Goita, interim President of Mali, today Tuesday July 20, escaped an assassination attempt, while performing Eid al-Adha prayers at the Grand Mosque in the capital, Bamako.
Minister of Religious Affairs, Mamadou Kone who confirmed this while speaking to AFP, said that a man had “tried to kill the president with a knife” but was caught. The attack occurred as an imam was directing worshippers outside the mosque for a ritual animal sacrifice.
Goita was whisked away according to an AFP news agency journalist who also said he saw blood at the scene, though it was not clear who had been wounded.
Later on Tuesday, Goita announced that he was doing “very well” following the attack. In a statement broadcast on state television channel ORTM, the interim President said;
“That’s part of being a leader, there are always malcontents.
“There are people who at any time may want to try things to cause instability.”
Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris reporting from Abuja, Nigeria, said on the ground reports suggested the attacker “posed as an usher” for the mosque.
“When Goita was passing by, he [the attacker] lunged at him. Another report said he was stabbed in the arm, but these are not confirmed yet.
“Right now we’re not clear whether the attacker is a member of the armed groups that have been operating in Mali and across the border in Burkina Faso and Niger. Or a military officer or even a civilian who is not happy with the government.”
The attack follows months of political turmoil in Mali, which is also battling an Islamist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
In June, 38-year-old Colonel Goita was sworn in as the transitional president after leading an internationally condemned coup. It was the second time he had led such a coup, after a similar putsch in August 2020.
The initial coup, orchestrated by Goita and other army officers, ousted elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after weeks of mass protests over corruption and the long-running conflict.