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Latest Attack On Mali Is 'Different' This Time


Mali is in the midst of a 10-day state of emergency following Friday's attack on a luxury hotel in the capital city that killed at least 19 people. We're going to hear now from a Malian man studying here in the U.S. His name is Assoumane Maiga. He's a post-doctoral student at Oklahoma State University. His wife and children are currently in Bamako, Mali's capital. He told us his family is safe. Shops are open. But there is unease on the streets.

ASSOUMANE MAIGA: People are really worried about what's going to happen next because people don't feel like they are secure. So it's like fear and insecurity in Bamako.

MARTIN: Mali was once a French colony. The country became independent in 1960. French President Francois Hollande has said that he will bolster the French military presence on the ground in Mali. Is that - is that welcomed news?

MAIGA: I do believe because, you know, since 2012 through now, the country's not (unintelligible) here. So - and we know that the Malian forces left alone cannot, today, ensure security in Mali.

MARTIN: Does this attack feel different to you? Does it change the way you look at your country and your own family's security?

MAIGA: Absolutely. This is very different. And this is very scary. And I see it as a threat to economic development and to peace in Mali. Mali is a landlocked country, and it depends on foreign aid and also international support and also business. So I think people will get fear going to Mali now, and it's going to have a huge economic impact.

MARTIN: You talk about your concerns about the economic fragility of Mali and worries that these attacks might deter international aid groups from sending people and money into your country. Is there a chance that that might create political instability? I mean, is the Malian government now capable of weathering that potential economic impact, or might it open a door for these Islamist groups?

MAIGA: There are many Malians today who work for the U.N. (unintelligible) and work for other agencies and work for - just for international business. If they pull out, I feel that initially, people will lose their jobs. And this is - this can create some social unrest and political unrest. And yeah, I see it as a problem. And as you know, for example, when people are desperate, poor, hopeless, they are (unintelligible). So I see it really as a threat to security in the country.

MARTIN: Assoumane Maiga is a graduate student at Oklahoma State University. He is from Mali. His family is still there. Thanks so much for talking with us.

MAIGA: Oh, thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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