Bomber of Paris's Mali embassy 'hates France': police

6th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

The man responsible for an explosion at the French embassy in Bamako is a 25-year-old Tunisian from a Saharan Al-Qaeda camp with a personal hatred for France, a police source said Thursday.

"He is a young man of 25 years, a Tunisian national. He has a personal hatred for France," the source close to the investigation told AFP.

The source said the man came from "a Katiba", a camp of Islamist fighters in the Sahara, but he did not seem to be an important member of the organisation.

The bombing late Wednesday appeared ill-prepared and the young man did not seem to be in control of the explosive.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, the Malian security ministry said: "A foreign individual exploded a gas cylinder in front of the French embassy in Bamako, lightly injuring two passers-by.

"The individual was armed with a pistol but could not use it. He is being interrogated by police," it said.

A security source said Wednesday evening the culprit was armed with an automatic pistol, a bomb and a grenade.

"I was there, the gas cylinder did not explode, it is the grenade which exploded," a witness told AFP on condition of anonymity. Witnesses also reported the man fired several shots at the door of the embassy.

This is the first time Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for an attack in Bamako.

In August 2009 a young Mauritanian carried out a suicide bombing near the French embassy in Nouakchott which was claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), injuring two French gendarmes and a Mauritanian bystander.

AQIM has designated France as a target after a Franco-Mauritanian operation last July 22 against an Al-Qaeda base in Mali aimed at freeing a French hostage, Michel Germaneau, 78.

The operation failed and AQIM later announced it had killed the hostage.

The French embassy gave no information on the attack at its door, but the French school, which remained closed on Thursday, said it would re-open on Monday.

"This attack ... is a reminder of the real threats weighing on French interests and citizens in the Sahel-Saharan zone, a spokeswoman for the French foreign ministry, Christine Fages, said in Paris Thursday.

An investigation is under way," she added, refusing to give details on whether the explosion was related to the case of French hostages currently being held in north-eastern Mali.

AQIM is currently holding five French nationals, a Togolese and a Malagasy who were kidnapped in September at Arlit, a strategic mining site of French nuclear giant Areva in northern Niger.

The explosion in Bamako came on the eve of the annual "Festival in the Desert" which starts Thursday in Timbuktu, with assurances of tight security from authorities who are expecting scores of tourists to attend.

© 2011 AFP

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