Sun, Aug 16, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Alleged extremists kill Malian imam for refusing to join


Alleged extremists killed a village imam in central Mali who had refused their repeated attempts to recruit him, a local official told reporters on Friday.

Gunmen with suspected links to radical Islamic preacher Amadou Koufa killed the imam of Barkerou village, Aladji Sekou, on Thursday night, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The two men arrived by motorcycle, leaving it on the edge of the village before approaching the imam’s home on foot where they shot him, he said, adding that the assailants appeared to be familiar with the area.

“In recent months, the jihadists have tried without success to get the imam of Barkerou to back their cause,” he said.

The 63-year-old iman’s nephew Oumar Sekou also confirmed his death, adding that he had been killed, “because, for them, he is their opponent.”

Security sources say that Koufa has linked with the Macina Liberation Front (FLM), a new group that emerged earlier this year and has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks, some targeting security forces in central Mali. The FLM draws its support from the Fulani people of central Mali, where Koufa is also from, and is also linked to Ansar Dine — Arabic for “defenders of the faith” — one of the groups that took control of Mali’s vast arid north in April 2012.

Investigators have found evidence linking the FLM to a deadly raid on a hotel in Sevare on Aug. 7 that killed four foreign UN employees. Three suspects arrested so far were supporters of Koufa, a security source said.

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