Sahel anti-terror force vows to fight on after suicide attack on HQ


BAMAKO: A five-nation African anti-terror task force vowed Saturday to press on in its battle against jihadists, the day after a suicide attack on the outfit’s headquarters in Mali killed two soldiers and a civilian.
Friday’s attack by a bomber in a vehicle painted in UN colours destroyed the building’s entrance wall.
It was the first attack on the headquarters of the G5 force, set up with the backing of France in 2017 to roll back jihadist insurgents and criminal groups in the vast, unstable Sahel region.
“The conditions of this force will improve,” Mauritanian Foreign Minister Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said. “This shows our determination rather than an indication of any weakness.”
The French and Cameroonian presidents condemned the attack and discussed the security situation in the Lake Chad area, the French leader’s office said Saturday.
“This demonstrates once again the importance of the vision of the heads of state to create this force which can respond to these difficulties,” the foreign minister said in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott.
The Al-Qaeda-linked Support Group for Islam and Muslims, the main jihadist alliance in Africa’s Sahel region, claimed the attack in a telephone call to the Mauritanian news agency Al-Akhbar.
UN secretary general Antonio Guterres condemned “the complex attack perpetrated against the G5-Sahel Joint Force’s Headquarters”, his spokesman said in a statement.
The strike in the Malian town of Sevare came shortly after Friday prayers, a military source in the G5 Sahel force told AFP.
Governor Sidi Alassane Toure said four suspects had been arrested.