JNIM claims prison break in Mali

Al Qaeda’s Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) released a statement today claiming a prison break in northern Mali earlier this week.

“It is with good tidings that your imprisoned brothers were freed from the DirĂ© prison south of Timbuktu on Nov. 11, 2019,” JNIM’s statement begins. It continues by adding that “dozens of prisoners were freed after storming the Aribanda prison.”

JNIM also warns of more prison breaks, saying that “and with this occasion we renew our promise with our imprisoned brothers and we say to them that we have not forgotten you and we will not forget you.”

While JNIM alleges that “dozens of prisoners” were released, this has not been confirmed. Local media indeed reported a multi-pronged attack inside DirĂ© late Monday. In addition to the prison, the local police station, national guard base, and gendarmerie post were also raided by the jihadists.

This week’s prison break in Mali is the latest in a string of similar incidents in the Sahel in recent years. In 2016, almost 100 inmates were freed by their fellow jihadists in central Mali. A few months later, Niger thwarted a prison break, which was later claimed by Islamic State-loyal militants, near its capital Niamey.

In a separate statement, JNIM also claimed responsibility for two operations earlier this month. The jihadist group stated that its men were behind the IED on Malian troops in Bandiagara on Nov. 3, which killed two soldiers. It also claimed the Nov. 5 raid on a Burkinabe gendarmerie post, which killed five gendarmes.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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