A man has attempted to stab Mali’s transitional president, Colonel Assimi Goïta, during Eid al-Adha celebrations at the Bamako Grand Mosque.
Witnesses said the incident occurred after the imam went to slaughter sheep in the capital’s mosque. A man with a knife and another with a pistol were involved in the attack, witnesses said.
Goïta was not injured and was quickly removed by his security team, but one person was injured, they said.
Central Mali has been the target of several attacks by jihadists in recent days.
Goïta seized power in August 2020 by overthrowing the democratically elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. He eventually agreed to a transitional government led by a civilian president and prime minister, but on May 24 he overthrew those civilian leaders after they announced a cabinet reshuffle that sidelined two junta supporters without consulting him.
Goïta was then sworn in as president of the transitional government in June. He has vowed to keep the country on track to return to civilian rule with elections in February 2022.
Mali has been restless since 2012 when mutinous soldiers toppled the decade-long president, Amadou Toumani Touré. The power vacuum led to an Islamic insurgency that seized control of northern cities in the country, including Timbuktu and Gao. A campaign led by France expelled jihadists from northern cities in 2013.
In 2015, three parties signed a peace agreement: the government, a coalition of groups seeking autonomy in northern Mali, and a pro-government militia.
However, the insurgents quickly regrouped in the desert areas and began to launch frequent attacks against the Malian army and its allies.
The extremists, affiliated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State, have moved from the arid north to the most populous center of Mali since 2015, where their presence has fueled animosity and violence between ethnic groups.