An armed man attempted to stab Mali’s interim president, Colonel Assimi Goita, on Tuesday morning during prayers at the Grand Mosque in the country’s capital of Bamako amid the Eid al-Adha religious festival.

One man wielding a knife reportedly attempted to attack the interim president from behind after the imam finished his sermon during morning prayers at the religious event. One person is believed to have been unintentionally wounded by the assailant in the altercation.

Goita was removed from the building quickly and did not appear to be injured, according to witnesses at the scene. Although no official confirmation has been made yet about his welfare, media reports have claimed the president is safe. 

The country’s Religious Affairs Minister Mamadou Kone told AFP that a man “tried to kill the president with a knife” but was detained by security officers before he could reach the interim leader. 

Mali has been under Goita’s control after the country experienced two coups in nine months during the past year, with the transitional president sworn in in May 2021. The 37-year-old transitional ruler previously served as the country’s vice president but engaged in a power grab after he wasn’t consulted over a cabinet reshuffle. 

The African nation has been battling an insurgency for the past decade, with militant groups spreading to the neighboring nations of Burkina Faso and Niger. France has been supporting Mali with joint military operations alongside the country’s armed forces in an attempt to bring stability to the region. It is not clear if the attempted attack is linked to the insurgency or militant groups.

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