Islamic fighters allegedly attacked a prison in central Mali Tuesday and freed several inmates.
At about 0115 GMT, Malian officials say five men injured two guards and freed 93 prisoners at Niono prison in central Mali, some 340km (211 miles) north of the capital, Bamako, according to Reuters.
This is the second prison break within the last two months. In November, gunmen broke in to another prison in Banamba, located in southern Mali, to release high-profile inmates who had already been moved. They then went on to free 21 prisoners.
Speaking on the latest incident, Malian Defense Ministry Spokesman Abdoulaye Sidibe said, “The army was able to catch some and is launching a pursuit.”
By Tuesday, officials said at least three of the prison escapees had been recaptured but 90 remain at large.
While no group has claimed responsibility for the latest attacks, authorities and local media believe any one of the Islamic groups that operate in Mali — some of whom are linked to Al- Qaeda — could have carried out the attacks.
Malian Army Spokesman Diarran Kone says the attack bears the hallmarks of followers of radical Islamist preacher Amadou Koufa, the leader of ethnic Fulani jihadist group the Macina Liberation Front.
Fighting for Dominance
Today, several armed Islamic groups continue to operate in the vast deserts in the north of Mali, after a 2012 uprising by the Tuareg and Arab tribes in the north of the country protested against marginalization and neglect from the central government and the South was hijacked by Islamic fighters with links to Al-Qaeda.
Watch a video on the fighting in Mali here:
An intervention by French troops in 2013 managed to chase out Islamic fighters from most of the towns they captured in northern Mali. The French troops withdrew after fulfilling their mission and a UN peace keeping force was subsequently stationed in the country.
However, in recent months, the Islamic fighters seem to have made new inroads in to government territory and have managed to launch a series of daring attacks.