Suspected Islamist militants free 93 prisoners in central Mali
December 06 2016 07:22 PM
Malian security officials display the flag of a militant group
Malian security officials display the flag of a militant group they said belonged to attackers in front of the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, November 20, 2015


Suspected Islamist militants freed 93 prisoners during an attack on a jail in the central Mali town of Niono early on Tuesday, officials said.
The prison break was the second of its kind in recent weeks in Mali, where militant groups based in the desert north have extended their campaign into central and southern regions.
Five armed men attacked the jail at around 0115 GMT, injuring two guards, the Ministry of Security said.
Ninety prisoners remained at large on Tuesday afternoon after three were captured. The army was deployed in pursuit.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, but a number of Islamist groups, some linked to al Qaeda, have stepped up their insurgency in Mali this year.
Army spokesman Diarran Kone said the attack bore the hallmarks of followers of radical Islamist preacher Amadou Koufa, the leader of an ethnic Fulani jihadist group, the Macina Liberation Front. It was unclear whether any suspected jihadists had been in the prison.
Last month, gunmen broke into a prison in southern Mali, freeing 21 inmates. But the two prisoners they had aimed to release had already been moved away, authorities said.
Islamist groups hijacked a separatist Tuareg rebellion in 2012 to seize towns in Mali's vast desert north. French forces drove them back a year later, but they have since reorganised, and in recent months launched dozens of attacks.

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