Mali: Army warns of 'high' risk of suicide attacks in Bamako

In Mali, in less than two weeks, at least six attacks and clashes have taken place between signatories to the Algiers peace agreement. And the terrorist threat is now approaching Bamako, according to an army document obtained by RFI.

An aerial view of Bamako. Getty Images - john images

By: Franck Alexandre | Serge Daniel


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The orders of the Malian General Staff were transmitted on September 7 to all gendarmerie units in the Bamako region: "High risk of kamikaze attacks in Bamako and the surrounding area by means of tricycles," the message said. "Strengthen security inside the camps", "systematically control all machines, including motorcycle taxis" and "redouble vigilance", it is further specified.

This document, which RFI has obtained (read below), highlights the tension that reigns in the Malian capital. Already last Thursday, a pick-up bomb attack was foiled in Kati Koko-Plateau, in the garrison town of Kati, the seat of the junta.

In reality, for the past year, the terrorist threat has never weakened in the Malian metropolis. As early as the summer of 2022, the Chief of Staff of the Famas, General Oumar Diarra, put his troops on alert to block the jihadist offensive.

But with the resumption of hostilities by separatist groups in the north and after pushing out the French and UN forces, the Malian army and its Russian partners now find themselves facing yet another adversary, forcing General Diarra to renew his warnings.

A threat against the backdrop of the collapse of the Algiers Agreement

Indeed, if the implementation of the Algiers peace agreement signed in 2015 was sluggish for months, it is now shattering in northern Mali. Fighting between the Malian army and armed groups that signed the agreement has resumed.

At the end of August, it was in Ber, a town located a few dozen kilometers from Timbuktu, that the Malian army - which had come to take control of a camp abandoned by MINUSMA - and the armed groups of the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) clashed. Each side claims to have dealt a heavy blow to the opponent. In the Timbuktu region alone, according to several NGOs, there are already more than 30,000 displaced people.

The second major clash between these now two belligerents took place last week in the Malian town of Bourem. This city constitutes an important lock to go to Kidal, stronghold of the former rebels who have now become de facto rebels.

Malian Prime Minister Choguel Maïga recently publicly admitted that the Malian army's objective is to control military bases in Kidal, Tessalit and Aguelhoc. This clearly means that the state will use the military means necessary to achieve its objectives.

CMA combatants, for their part, say they will not stand idly by. On the ground, they are already conducting preventive operations, and communicate a lot on social networks: for example, they presented, in a video, a Malian army officer taken prisoner.

But in this vast part of Malian territory, there is a third actor already very active: the jihadists, opposed to the Malian army. They impose a blockade on localities - Timbuktu in particular - and carry out attacks, such as those recently on the Malian army camp in Bamba and especially the attack on the main Fama camp in Gao, the main city in northern Mali.

Like the groups of the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), the jihadists have a clear objective: to deal hard blows on the ground, everywhere, to the Malian army and its ally, the Russian paramilitary force Wagner.

Document of the General Staff of the Malian Armed Forces

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  • Mali
  • Defense
  • Choguel Maïga