Malian authorities question ‘dead’ jihadist’s video

Amadou Koufa denies reports of his death in new video.
Malian troops in Gao, Mali - AFP
Malian troops stand guard prior to the visit of the French Prime Minister at the Operation Barkane military French base in Gao, Mali, on February 24, 2019. (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD / AFP)

Malian and French authorities were verifying the authenticity of a video on Friday that appeared to show one of the West African country’s top jihadist leaders alive — three months after his death was announced.

Officials in both countries had said that Amadou Koufa, a radical preacher accused of stoking sectarian conflict and several violent attacks, died in November 2018 in a raid led by French soldiers in central Mali.

In the video, a copy of which has been obtained by AFP, Koufa denies reports of his death.

He is seen sitting behind a table responding to questions in Arabic and without any obvious signs of injury.

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“Checks are in progress,” a military source in Bamako told AFP.

“We are verifying the authenticity of the video,” added French army spokesman Patrik Steiger in Paris.

At the time of his reported death, Koufa was regarded as one the top deputies to Iyad Ag Ghali, the leader of the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), which has repeatedly struck military and civilian targets in Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso.

The Mauritanian news agency Al-Akhbar said it had received the video from GSIM’s media arm.

France helped Malian forces stave off a jihadist insurgency that took control of large parts of the north in 2012, but large swathes of the country remain out of the government’s control.

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The former colonial ruler has deployed the 4,500-member Barkhane force in the region in a bid to repel attacks and stem the insurgency.

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