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Man accused of trying to kill Mali president dies in custody

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Goita was whisked away by his security detail, and later appeared on state TV to say he was doing "very well", downplaying the significance of the assault.

A man accused of trying to kill Mali’s military strongman Assimi Goita, the figure behind two coups in less than a year, has died in custody, the government said on Sunday.

The suspect, whose identity has not been revealed, had been taken into custody following the assassination attempt at Bamako’s Grand Mosque on Tuesday.

“During investigations… his health deteriorated” and he was then hospitalised, but “unfortunately, he has died,” the government said in a statement.

It added that an autopsy had been immediately ordered to determine the cause of death.

A man armed with a knife lunged at Goita after prayers for Eid al-Adha on Tuesday, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

Goita was whisked away by his security detail, and later appeared on state TV to say he was doing “very well”, downplaying the significance of the assault.

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“That’s part of being a leader, there are always malcontents,” he said.

“There are people who at any time may want to try things to cause instability.”

His attacker, a young-looking man dressed in jeans and a white shirt, was apprehended at the scene and taken away by the Malian intelligence services.

The suspect was never presented to judicial authorities, a source requesting anonymity told AFP on Sunday.

His identity was not revealed, but commissioner Sadio Tomoda said late Tuesday that he was a teacher, without elaborating.

Prosecutors had opened an inquiry into the incident.

On Sunday, the government said the suspect’s death was not an obstacle to continuing the investigation, “especially since preliminary evidence and intelligence gathered indicate that he was not an isolated element”.

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– Political instability –

The attack capped months of political turmoil in a country that has rarely enjoyed stability since gaining independence from France in 1960.

Goita, a special forces colonel in his late thirties, headed a putsch last August that ousted elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after weeks of protests over graft and a bloody jihadist insurgency.

The junta, in the face of international condemnation, handed power to a civilian-led transitional government that promised to restore civilian rule in February 2022.

But in late May, Goita, who was vice president in the transitional government, ousted president Bah Ndaw and premier Moctar Ouane, saying they had sought to “sabotage” the handover.

In June, with Goita as interim president, a new government was unveiled, with military figures in key roles.

As the African Union and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS piled on pressure, Goita vowed the government would uphold all commitments and pledged to stage “credible, fair and transparent elections”.

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Mali’s neighbours and allies have been viewing the crisis with disquiet, fearing the impact on efforts to stem a jihadist insurgency that is unfurling across the Sahel region.

The bloody campaign erupted in the north of Mali in 2012, and has since spread to Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.

France, the mainstay of the anti-jihadist operation, has been especially critical of the military takeover in Mali.

It suspended military cooperation after the second coup and then announced a major drawdown of its 5,100-man Barkhane mission.

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Shooting between separatists, Cameroonian forces kills civilians

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A soldier was killed on Monday by separatist fighters who seized his weapons and left his body in a bush.

A civilian was killed in a shootout between separatist fighters and government forces in Mbalangi, southwest Cameroon.

Four other civilians were injured in the incident on Tuesday.

Government forces were heading to clear a roadblock when the incident occurred, said Cameroon News Agency, which added that an explosive device had been detonated in Ediki.

A faction of separatists in Cameroon had announced a two-week lockdown which it said will begin on September 15 and end on October 2, 2021.

In the Tatum Bui division, in the north-western region of the country, a soldier was killed on Monday by separatist fighters who seized his weapons and left his body in a bush.

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The shootout between government forces and armed separatists seeking an independent state known as Ambazonia, has left scores of civilians dead and injured since the Cameroonian government headed by President Paul Biya failed in establishing a dialogue with aggrieved citizens.

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Nigeria recaptures 108 inmates after prison outbreak

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Owerri prison after jailbreak 2021. On April 5, gunmen raided Owerri police headquarters, in Nigeria’s southern Imo state, freeing more than 1,800 inmates.

At least 108 out of 240 inmates who escaped from a prison in central Nigeria have been recaptured, a prison official said Tuesday.

Heavily armed gunmen stormed the Security Custodial Centre in Kabba, in Kogi State, late on Sunday, freeing scores of inmates.

It was unclear who the gunmen were but criminal gangs have terrorised central and northwest Nigeria for years.

“We have a total of 108 inmates rearrested,” Nigeria’s correctional service spokesman Francis Enobore told AFP by phone.

“But as the day progresses, the figure will definitely increase,” he added, saying “several processes have been activated to ensure all inmates are rearrested.”

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At about 2245 GMT on Sunday, the spokesman had said earlier in a statement, numerous attackers “engaged the armed guards in a fierce gun battle.”

The gunmen invaded the prison, which had 294 prisoners in custody at the time, including 224 pre-trial detainees.

A soldier and a police officer lost their lives in the attack, Enobore later added.

Large prison outbreaks are not uncommon in Nigeria.

On April 5, gunmen raided Owerri police headquarters, in Nigeria’s southern Imo state, freeing more than 1,800 inmates.

In addition to fighting criminal gangs who also kidnap people for ransom and rustle cattle, Nigeria’s security forces are facing a violent jihadist insurgency in the northeast and separatist agitation in the southeast.

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Biafran separatists to shut Nigeria’s eastern region on September 14

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Youths rally in Anambra 2018, in support of the separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu.

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a Biafran pro-independence group, has announced that the southeastern region of Nigeria will be closed on September 14, 2021, to mark what they call “saboteurs day”.

The separatist group said the “saboteurs day” is a day to remember— September 14, 2017, when government forces raided the home of its leader Nnamdi Kanu in Umuahia, where they killed at least 28 civilians in an attempted assassinate the separatist leader.

It is also a day to remember all those who betrayed their comrades and sabotaged the struggle to restore the sovereign state of Biafra, said IPOB.

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No official statement is made on the issue by the Federal Government of Nigeria which has almost lost control of the eastern region of the country.

Meanwhile, Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the IPOB is still detained by the Nigerian authorities who had illegally repatriated him in July 2021 to Nigeria after his arrest in Kenya.

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