The interim President of Mali, Assimi Goita, was almost murdered on Tuesday, July 20, after the Eid prayers at a mosque in Bamako, the nation’s capital.
One of the two attackers was reportedly wielding a knife with which he almost stabbed the president. However, security aides around Goita intervened, overpowered the assailant, and arrested him while the colonel was taken to the military camp in Kati.
Speaking later about what could have turned out to be a counter-coup, on the state broadcaster ORTM, the Goita 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.”
Also, Latus Toure, the director of the worship centre, said an attacker wounded a civilian in his attempt to kill the president.
The journalist saw blood at the scene, although it was unclear who was wounded.
His office released a statement saying that Goita was “safe and sound” after what was labelled an assassination attempt.
Security had subdued one attacker, and “investigations are ongoing,” the presidency added.
The assailants went for the president as an imam was directing worshippers outside the Great Mosque for a ritual animal sacrifice.
Religious Affairs Minister Mamadou Kone, who was at the mosque, told AFP that a man had “tried to kill the president with a knife” but was apprehended.
The mosque’s director, Latus Toure, said an attacker had lunged at the president but wounded someone else.
Later, a security official who requested anonymity said that two people had been arrested and were now in detention.
The shocking attack follows months of political turmoil in Mali, which is also battling a jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes.
Goita was sworn into office in June after leading the country’s second coup in less than a year.