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17.01.2020 Ivory Coast

US indicts Malian over deadly 2016 attacks in Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso

By AFP
.  By ISSOUF SANOGO (AFP/File)
LISTEN JAN 17, 2020

The US Justice Department unveiled murder and conspiracy charges Thursday against a Malian who played a "central role" in suicide bomb attacks in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast in 2016 that killed 49.

The department said Mimi Ould Baba, 32, assisted the planning and preparation of the attacks by two designated terror groups, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al-Murabitoun.

In the January 15, 2016 attack on the Cafe Cappuccino and Hotel Splendid in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Baba conducted surveillance, helped store weapons and grenades used in the attack, and conducted a walk-through by three suicide bombers, it said.

That attack, combining suicide bombers and gunmen, left 30 people dead, many of them foreigners, including an American, Michael Riddering, three French and six Canadians.

Two months later, on March 13, 2016, Baba allegedly planned a similar attack on resort patrons along the beach of Grand Bassam in Ivory Coast.

The Justice department said he helped plan the attack and find three suicide bombers, and procured a vehicle which was used to transport the AK-47s and grenades used by the attackers.

That attack left 19 people dead, including 11 Ivorians and eight foreigners.

The US charges focus on the death of Riddering, an American missionary who had been at the Cafe Cappuccino when the Ouagadougou attack began.

"Baba is currently in Malian custody for his terrorism-related activities," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers.

"At the same time, these charges reflect that the US justice system remains a powerful tool to bring to bear against those who harm our citizens abroad. We will continue to pursue justice for Mr. Riddering and for all American victims of terrorism," he said.

It was not clear if the United States would seek his extradition after Mali concludes its case against him.

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