France announces the capture of a senior official of the Islamic State in Mali

France has captured a senior official of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS) in Mali whom it accuses of being behind various attacks against military targets in the region. As confirmed by the French General Staff, Oumeya Ould Albakaye was arrested on the border between Mali and Nigeria, during a military operation by the Barkhane force on the night of June 11 to 12, although it was only reported on Wednesday. Albakaye “has organized several attacks against different military locations in Mali, including those in Gao,” according to a statement from the General Staff of the French Armies. The jihadist directed several networks in charge of launching improvised explosive devices whose objective was “the circulation axes used by the Barkhane force to conduct its reorganization outside Mali” after the decision of France and its allies in the anti-jihadist operation in the Sahel to remove to its military from this country as a result of the tensions with the coup authorities in Bamako.

In fact, Paris has highlighted the importance of this operation at a time of great political tension in the Sahel, following the rise of military regimes with which France has collided. For the French Army, it comes to demonstrate the validity of Operation Barkhane, which is in full reorganization in border countries after the decision made in February by Paris and its international allies in the area to withdraw their forces from Mali. “In the face of multiple obstructions by the Malian transitional authorities, Canada and the European states operating in Operation Barkhane and within the task force Takuba believe that the political, operational and legal conditions no longer exist to effectively continue their current military commitment in the fight against terrorism in Mali,” announced the countries participating in the international anti-terrorist mission that began almost a decade ago in a statement. set in mid-February.

The arrest of Albakaye “constitutes, at the military level, a new success for the Barkhane force, which continues the fight against armed terrorist groups by rearticulating itself outside of Mali,” the French General Staff points out in this regard. In addition, he continues, the operation “re-destabilizes the EIGS high command in the three-border area, which was significantly weakened by Barkhane in late 2021 and early 2022, especially with the neutralization of Abu Walid al-Saharawi, the chief of the EIGS, in August 2021″, he recalls. The death of the jihadist leader who is blamed for most of the attacks and attacks in recent years in western Niger and eastern Burkina Faso and Mali was even celebrated by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, as “a new great success in the fight against the terrorist groups of the Sahel”.

Albakaye, responsible for the EIGS in Gourma, in Mali, and in Oudalan, in the north of Burkina Faso, is also considered responsible for “a large number of exactions and retaliatory actions of the EIGS against the civilian populations” of Mali and Burkina Faso, of agreement with the French military high command.

The operation to capture Albakaye has lasted “several weeks” and required the mobilization of both “intelligence, transport and fire support aerial capabilities” and ground units of the Barkhane force. In addition to arresting the jihadist leader, whose situation or location has not been reported, the operation allowed the seizure of “mobile phones, weapons and numerous resources,” according to Paris.

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