Five people have been killed by jihadists at a nightclub in Mali’s capital of Bamako. The assault was carried out with machine guns and hand grenades, according to the BBC. One Belgian, one French, and three Malian nationals were killed, with three Swiss nationals wounded in the attack, the first of its kind in Bamako. The number of attackers is unknown and the assailants were able to leave the scene. Two people were arrested in connection to the attack, but were later released, according to Malian media.
The jihadist group Al Murabitoon has claimed responsibility, according to Mauritanian news site Al Akhbar. Al Akhbar reported that it received a video from the jihadist group with “Khalid Abu al Abbas claiming the attack.” Khalid Abu al Abbas is the known nom de guerre of Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a veteran Al Qaeda commander from Algeria. The attack was said to be in response to the killing of jihadist leader Ahmed al Tilemsi.
Al Murabitoon was formed in 2013 from the merger between Ahmed al Tilemsi’s Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and Belmokhtar’s Al Mulathameen Brigade. Both Belmokhtar and al Tilemsi are said to have ceded control of the Al Murabitoon to a commander who has waged jihad against both the Soviets and the US in Afghanistan. The group swears allegiance to Al Qaeda emir, Ayman al Zawahiri and a faction of MUJAO still operates independently in Mali under the control of Sultan Ould Bady. (For more on the founding of Al Murabitoon, see LWJ report Al Qaeda group led by Belmokhtar, MUJAO unite to form al-Murabitoon.)