A man accused of trying to kill Mali’s military strongman Assimi Goita, the figure behind two coups in less than a year, has died in custody, the government said on Sunday.
The suspect, whose identity has not been revealed, had been taken into custody following the assassination attempt at Bamako’s Grand Mosque on Tuesday.
“During investigations… his health deteriorated” and he was then hospitalised, but “unfortunately, he has died,” the government said in a statement.
It added that an autopsy had been immediately ordered to determine the cause of death.
A man armed with a knife lunged at Goita after prayers for Eid al-Adha on Tuesday, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.
Goita was whisked away by his security detail and later appeared on state TV to say he was doing “very well”, downplaying the significance of the assault.
“That’s part of being a leader, there are always malcontents,” he said.
“There are people who at any time may want to try things to cause instability.”
His attacker, a young-looking man dressed in jeans and a white shirt, was apprehended at the scene and taken away by the Malian intelligence services.
The suspect was never presented to judicial authorities, a source requesting anonymity told AFP on Sunday.
His identity was not revealed, but commissioner Sadio Tomoda said late Tuesday that he was a teacher, without elaborating.
Prosecutors had opened an inquiry into the incident.
On Sunday, the government said the suspect’s death was not an obstacle to continuing the investigation, “especially since preliminary evidence and intelligence gathered indicate that he was not an isolated element”.