BAMAKO (Globe Afrique) – Mali’s security minister said on Sunday that French and Malian troops have arrested a close associate of a preacher whose jihadist group has claimed dozens of attacks against Western and Malian targets.
Based in central Mali’s Mopti region, the Macina Liberation Front is led by cleric Amadou Koufa who has called upon followers to take up arms and rebuild the historic Fulani empire of Massina.
General Salif Traoré told media groups, “I confirm that the terrorist Alhousseyni Ag Assaleh, in charge of logistics for…the group run by Amadou Koufa was arrested on July 8, 2017 during a joint operation with Barkhane in the Timbuktu region.”
General Traoré said the arrest was kept secret until now because of ongoing efforts to capture others in his network.’
Barkhane is collaborating with regional troops in five West African countries to form a new force to fight desert militants who have regrouped since the French army drove them out of their urban strongholds in northern Mali in 2013.
As the war rages, losses have been high among Malian forces in recent months. In fact, the United Nations which has a peacekeeping force in Mali, reported that 131 soldiers have been killed over the past year versus 49 in the previous year.
Regarding the arrest, there has been no immediate comment from France’s 4,000-strong Barkhane counter-terrorism force operating in the Sahel.