Asimi Goita, the Malian Special Forces colonel and interim president, who led two coups in less than a year, was the target of a knife-wielding assailant. The attack took place after Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) prayers at the Grand Mosque in Mali’s capital, Bamako. His office said that Colonel Goita was not hurt in the attack. 

Security officials are conducting an investigation into the incident. No motive has been given for the attack yet. 

Security officials at the scene overpowered and arrested two potential suspects. In video footage obtained by Reuters, the suspects can be seen being thrown into the back of a military pickup truck. Goita, dressed in a blue robe, can be seen surrounded by his security detail. He appears unhurt.

Al Jazeera quoted one witness as saying that the colonel was wounded in the arm but that hasn’t been confirmed by the government. 

“The attacker was immediately overpowered by security. Investigations are ongoing,” the president’s office wrote on Twitter after the incident. One AFP journalist reported to have seen blood on the scene but it wasn’t clear exactly whose blood it was. 

Prime Minister Choguel Maiga, who was seated near Goita in the mosque, told state television that a man wielding a knife approached the interim president at the end of the prayer and attempted to stab him.

Malian Coup Leader, Asimi Goita, Targeted in an Assassination Attempt
Mali coup leaders meet with the press following the August 2020 takeover.

“As you know the interim president is an officer of the special forces, and I believe his instincts helped prevent the aggressor from reaching his objective,” Maiga said.