'First' woman arrested in Mali for helping jihadists make bombs

Mali's intelligence services have arrested a Malian woman who was helping jihadists make explosives by supplying them with fertiliser, a first in the country badly hit by terror attacks, security sources told AFP on Friday.

"On Thursday, we arrested a Malian woman in Bamako who was helping jihadists make explosives and mines by providing them sizeable quantities of fertiliser. She knew what the fertiliser was used for," a Malian security source told AFP.

The woman is from Mopti, in central Mali, where jihadists have struck repeatedly in recent months - often with homemade explosive devices.

Investigators did not reveal the quantity of fertiliser delivered to the jihadists. They are now looking for "other accomplices," according to the same source, who said the arrest was a first in Mali.

"We still do not know the quantity of fertiliser that was provided. But imagine all the landmine and explosives victims!" another security source said, adding the woman was working closely with the Macina Liberation Front (FLM).

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The FLM is a jihadist group formed in 2015 and headed by a radical Malian preacher, Amadou Koufa, who hails from the Fulani community.

Koufa pledged allegiance to the Al-Qaeda-linked Support Group for Islam and Muslims, the main jihadist alliance in the Sahel.

The 34-year-old woman, who was arrested and detained in Bamako, looked wide-eyed and scared in a picture obtained by AFP.

Landmines and explosives have killed scores in northern Mali, which fell into the hands of Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist groups in 2012.

The extremists were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.

But large stretches of the country remain out of the control of the foreign and Malian forces, which are frequent targets of attacks, despite a peace accord signed with Tuareg leaders in mid-2015 aimed at isolating the jihadists.

The violence has also spilled over into both Burkina Faso and Niger.

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