‘It’s part of being leader’: Mali military president Assimi Goita speaks after knife attack

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Interim Mali President Assimi Goita, a special forces colonel who orchestrated two coups in the last year, said he escaped unharmed after an assailant tried to stab him during prayers at a mosque in the capital Bamako on Tuesday.

Security agents overpowered two men in the mosque and threw one into the back of a military pickup truck, video obtained by Reuters showed, as Goita, dressed in a sky blue embroidered robe, was ringed by bodyguards.

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The president’s office said investigations were ongoing. It did not immediately advance a motive for the attack, which occurred during services marking the Muslim Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) holiday at Bamako’s Grand Mosque.

Mali, the theatre of French-supported operations against al Qaeda and Islamic State-linked insurgents for a decade, was thrown into political turmoil after a military junta led by Goita toppled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020.

Goita served as vice-president to transitional leader Bah Ndaw until the latter’s ouster in May.

“Everything is fine, there is no problem. It’s part of being a leader,” Goita told state television hours after the attack. “There are always people who are unhappy. There are people who will try to destabilise.” (Reuters)

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