BAMAKO, Mali — A Mauritanian man suspected of planning and carrying out deadly attacks on popular tourist venues in Mali last year has been arrested in the Malian capital Bamako, security sources told AFP on Friday.
Detained on Thursday in a Bamako suburb, the man is believed to have taken part in attacks in March, August and November that left more than 30 people dead, including a deadly assault on the upmarket Radisson Blu hotel he allegedly masterminded.
“He was planning to stage an attack on western targets this weekend in Bamako,” said a source who asked not to be identified.
The suspected is believed to attacked a bar and restaurant in Bamako in March 2015 in which five people died, including two foreigners, the sources said.
He is also suspected of planning deadly assaults on the upmarket Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako in November that left 20 dead and the Byblos hotel in central Mali in August, where 13 people died.
A security source close to the investigation said the Mauritanian had also been involved in a failed attack in March 21 this year on the Azalai Nord-Sud hotel in Bamako, where the EU mission is based.
Code-named “Ibrahim number 10,” the suspect was “the shooter at La Terrasse,” and he planned the Radisson Blu, Sevare and Nord-Sud attacks, the source said.
“He quickly confessed after his arrest yesterday (Thursday) at around 8:00 p.m. (2000 GMT),” the source added.
“He had arrived in Bamako on April 16 to carry out more attacks, and he spent several days in Mali without being detected,” he said.
Another security source said weapons and grenades were found at the suspect’s home in Bamako.
The March 7, 2015 grenade and gun attack on La Terrasse bar left five people dead — three Malians, a Belgian and a Frenchman. It was claimed by an affiliate of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the jihadist group’s North African branch.
The November 20 attack on the Radisson Blu left 20 people dead, including 14 foreigners. AQIM also claimed responsibility for the assault.
The August attack on the Byblos hotel in Sevare killed four foreign employees of the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).