Sahel anti-terror force shifts HQs to Mali capital after attack

Mali (iStock)
Mali (iStock)

The headquarters of a five-nation anti-terror force in Mali has been transferred to the capital Bamako from the central town of Sevare following a deadly bomb attack, a source said on Friday.

The European Union had said in July it would finance the construction of the new headquarters.

The June 29 suicide attack on the Sevare facility was claimed by a jihadist group, the Muslim Islam Support Group, the main Sahelian jihadist alliance linked to al-Qaeda. Two soldiers and one civilian died in the assault.

The head of G5, Mauritanian general Hanena Ould Sidi, is "already working with his team from Bamako," a source said.

"The headquarters of this force should be in a place where communication and links are better," the source said.

The French military also confirmed the move.

The G5 joint force was launched in 2017 by Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

It is set to expand to 5 000 troops, divided into seven battalions: two each from the Mali and Niger, and one from Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

About $488m pledged at an international donors' conference in Brussels on 23 February has been slow to materialise.

Mali's unrest stems from a 2012 Tuareg separatist uprising which was exploited by jihadists in order to take over key cities in the north.

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 Malian, French and UN forces, which are frequent targets of attacks.

Jihadist violence, meanwhile, has spread from northern Mali to the centre and south and spilt into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, often exacerbating communal conflicts.

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