Nouakchott — Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) on Monday (September 30th) claimed responsibility for a twin suicide car bombing that killed two civilians and injured six soldiers in Timbuktu.
The attack on the Malian military base was conducted by the AQIM's "Imaratou Sahra" (Desert Emirate) battalion, Alakhbar reported, citing an unnamed al-Qaeda spokesman. The terror group claimed to have killed 16 Malian soldiers and destroyed a number of military vehicles during the Saturday attack.
Malian Internal Security Minister General Sada Samaké went to the bombing site the following day to reassure civilians and soldiers of "the commitment of the government to investigate and punish those responsible for these acts".
"There are failures, we must have the courage to admit it, but... we will take all measures to ensure that the situation is under control," General Samaké added in his statement aired by ORTM public television.
Timbuktu resident Djiby Sangare said the attack had "plunged the peaceful inhabitants of this city into a state of fear".
"It confirms that the terrorists are still here with us and we have to continue the fight in order to neutralise them," he told Magharebia.
Touareg rebel group National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), meanwhile, said it was "deeply saddened for the victims" of the attack. In a statement issued on September 29th, the group said that it remained firmly committed to the fight against terrorism in the Azawad.
The message signed by MNLA spokesman Mossa Ag Attaher indirectly blamed al-Qaeda and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) for the attack.
For his part, journalist and security analyst Jidou Ould Sidi said: "This operation marks the resurgence of terrorists who kept quiet for six months. This shows at least that the terrorist threat is still there and all the countries of the region should be aware of it and act accordingly."
"The terrorists' new tactic is to keep quiet for a while, then build up strength and hit by surprise. This is what the terrorists succeeded in doing cold-bloodedly in Timbuktu," Ould Sidi added.
According to Journal Tahalil editor and terrorism expert Isselmou Ould Moustapha, however, there was an "abnormality" in the claim of responsibility.
"It is written with the header of an otherwise unknown organisation- 'Qaidatou El Jihad Fi Biladi Almagrib El Islami', or al-Qaeda of Jihad in the Islamic Maghreb," he said. "Did the group change its name?"