Hard on the heels of the terrorist attack in Paris, which resulted in the deaths of some 130 people, came a terrorist attack on a hotel in Bamako, the capital of Mali.
Prior to 2012, Mali was one of Africa’s longest established democracies, but a failure to deal with ethnic tensions in the north as well as the presence of extremist groups operating from safe havens in the north led to a Tuareg rebellion. This rebellion was then usurped by violent extremist elements reinforced with arms and fighters from Libya. The country was destabilized, and this led to a military coup in 2012. Extremists with links to al Qaeda occupied large parts of northern Mali and began to institute their fundamentalist version of Sharia, and brutalized the civilian population, forcing thousands to flee.
The Malian government requested help. In 2012, a French military force backed by African partners from Chad and Niger, under Operation SABRE, disrupted and scattered extremist forces which largely fled to Tunisia and Libya. However, remnants of the extremist groups continue asymmetric attacks against the Malian government as well as the United Nations peacekeeping mission established The French continue counter terrorist operations against extremists.
There is good reason to believe that terrorists chose their target specifically because the hotel is popular with foreigners, and at the time of the attack was hosting a number of delegations attending peace talks. At least 22 people died, among them 6 Russians, 3 Chinese nationals, an Israeli, an American, two Belgians, one citizen of Senegal and another from Lebanon.
Many of the victims, including one American, were people who came to Bamako to help the Malian government and the Malian people through difficult times. These international efforts to restore peace, security, and prosperity in Mali will continue. The support of the U.S. government in these efforts will continue, as well.
The United States condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks in Bamako. “We extend our deep condolences to the families and loved ones of those who have been killed in this heinous attack,” said U.S. National Security Council Spokesman Ned Price.
The United States stands with the people of Mali and will remain a steadfast partner along with other key Allies and African partners fighting the terrorist groups that seek to undermine Mali’s efforts to build durable peace and stability.