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Terrorist attack on the EUTM Mali training center in Koulikoro last night (V8)

(B2)Lhe training center in Koulikoro, where European soldiers from the EUTM Mali mission are deployed, was the subject, last night from Saturday to Sunday (February 23 to 24), of a terrorist car bomb attack. Two Malian soldiers injured. No victims on the European side

Koulikoro Training Center (Credit: Council of the EU – B2 archives)

A complex 'car bomb' attack followed by gunfire

The attack took place between 2:50 a.m. and 3:10 a.m. (local time, + 1 hour Brussels). It was very short, using a method now tested by terrorists: shooting and car bomb(s), by explosive devices (IED). According to the region's governor, Col. Major Mamary Camara, it is not a vehicle (as mentioned at the beginning), but rather “ two suicide vehicles with an unknown number of attackers » who led the attack. They " first opened fire on the Mafèya checkpoint on the Koulikoro Banamba axis,” then went dark “towards the Boubacar Sada Sy military training center where they exploded at the entrance ". But he did not confirm the information of Mali24, speaking of “ a rocket fired from the other side of the river having exploded in front of the camp entrance ».

The good reaction of the Malians and the protection force

The Malian soldiers (FAMA) like the protection force of the EU camp reacted well, repelling the attack, according to our sources. They thus largely contributed to ensuring that this attack was not deadly, as expected. Information confirmed by the Malian Ministry of Security and Civil Protection. " Faced with the alert and the reaction of the sentries, the attackers were forced to trigger their systems just at the entrance to the camp ". The second kamikaze vehicle full of explosives » thus does not have “ could have been triggered ". The deminers had to carry out its controlled explosion so as to eliminate any risk.

Three Malians injured

The results: two Malian soldiers were injured, quite lightly. They were immediately taken care of by the field hospital ('Role 2') deployed inside the camp. A civilian was more seriously reached, according to the governor of Koulikoro. Balance sheet then revised downwards to be qualified as " light and ". At least " two bodies » were found on the scene (the attackers). There is no no losses to be deplored among Europeans”, according to our sources. Assessment officially confirmed by EUTM Mali in a tweet at 12:20 p.m.: “ No member of EUTM Mali was injured. As by the Bundeswehr (1).

No losses on the European side

The general staff of the Spanish armed forces quickly communicated to indicate that the Spanish soldiers – who partly ensure the security of the camp – had not reported any injuries. “ All is well they said. Message intended to reassure families.

Similarly, the spokesperson for the Bundeswehr operations command wanted to send the same message: “ Soldiers of the Bundeswehr and those of other European Union forces are not affected as reported by our colleague in Berlin, Thomas Wiegold (Augergeradeaus).

A doomed attack

The attack was condemned " firmly » by the EU Special Representative for the Sahel, Angel Losada, affirming that the European Union continues to stand alongside Mali and the Malian Armed Forces (FAMA).

A disrupted context

French visit and neutralization of several terrorists

This attack occurs in a context marked both by the visit to Mali of French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and the Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly, who arrived in the country on Friday evening, but also the announcement of the 'neutralization' by the French forces of Operation Barkhane from one of the leaders of AQIM in the country, Yahia Abou Hamman (RIVM number 2 shot down by French forces in northern Mali).

Europeans become a target

This is not the first time that Europeans have been deliberately targeted in Mali. In March 2016, the mission HQ in Bamako was attacked, without damage. In June 2017, the terrorist attack against the Le Campement hotel where several European soldiers were resting, had caused several victims, including a Portuguese soldier and an agent of the EU delegation (near Bamako. Deaths among Europeans). This is without counting the victims of attacks in the city: a Belgian, security agent for the EU delegation in Mali, was killed in March 2015 during theattack in a restaurant in Bamako. (2) In this case, the terrorists seemed to be targeting the Malian army as much as the Europeans, as they had done against the G5 Sahel HQ in Sévaré in June 2018 (see also: The EU will finance the reconstruction of the G5 Sahel HQ in Sévaré).

The main training camp of the Malian army

The camp Koulikoro houses the inter-army military school (EMIA) of the Malian army, called Boubacar Sada Sy. It is in this structure located about fifty kilometers northeast of Bamako, slightly outside the city, near the Niger River, that most of the training provided by the Europeans since the start of the mission is carried out. in 2013.

A regular workout

This type of attack is not, in itself, a surprise. During each rotation of the protection force, European soldiers train with their Malian colleagues in an explosive attack (IED), to test both the reaction and the medical evacuation chain. This was the case for example in August 2015 (read here)

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde, with Leonor Hubaut)

Three blue helmets killed in Siby

We also learned that three peacekeepers from the Guinea Conakry contingent of MINUSMA who were going on leave in a rental vehicle were attacked on Friday (February 22), around 22 p.m., " by unidentified armed men on the road to Siby”, According to Minusma. The balance sheet: three blue helmets killed and one injured. The civilian, who was driving the vehicle, was also injured ". Siby is located 44 km southwest of Bamako, the exact opposite of Koulikoro from the Malian capital.

  1. The mission is currently carried out largely by the Germans, with Germany as framework nation, and General Peter Mirow at its head (EUTM Mali. Germany takes the lead)
  2. In Somalia, moreover, a EUTM Somalia convoy had been targeted by an attack in Mogadishu last October 1.

Updated 24. Feb. between noon and 14 p.m., with information from the Bundeswehr (V2), EUTM Mali confirmation (V3), a reminder of recent attacks (V4), the official assessment of the Malian governor of the region (reported by Jigi Africa – V5), with details on the circumstances of the incident by the Malian Ministry of Security and Civil Protection (V6) – (19 p.m.) the conditional removed from the assessment of the attack (V7), with the reminder past exercises (V8).

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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