BAMAKO, MALI (AP) – Extremist rebels have attacked Mali’s Kati military base on the outskirts of the capital city Bamako, the ruling junta confirmed on Friday.
It’s the first time Kati, Mali’s largest military base, has been hit by extremist rebels in their more than 10-year insurgency in the West African country.
Two vehicles loaded with explosives detonated at the camp at about 5am, according to a statement issued by the military.
“The Malian Armed Forces vigorously repelled a terrorist attack on the Kati barracks,” said the statement, which said that seven attackers were killed and eight arrested.
“The terrorists first blew up the vehicles at the entrance to the military camp, then shells were fired at the camp,” said a military official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press.
Another group of the extremists entered the camp on foot and “began burning vehicles parked in the camp, and then the attackers stole two army vehicles,” he said.
Friday’s attack on the Kati barracks base follows a coordinated series of insurgent attacks on Thursday.
In one of those incidents, the extremists attacked a police base in Kolokani, 60 kilometres north of Bamako and two Malian soldiers were killed, said the military in an earlier statement.
The leader of Mali’s ruling junta Lieutenant Colonel Assimi Goita frequently stays at the Kati camp, where he launched the 2020 coup that brought him to power.
Extremist rebels linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have been gaining ground in their decade-long insurgency. Their attacks have mostly been in northern Mali but recently the extremists have moved into central Mali. This month they’ve moved closer to the capital.
Last week gunmen attacked an army checkpoint about 60 kilometres outside Bamako, killing at least six people and wounding several others, officials said.