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Terrorist sleeper cell dismantled in Mali’s capital

BAMAKO, Mali — Police in Mali’s capital have dismantled a terrorist cell belonging to the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, or MUJAO, three officials confirmed on Tuesday.

The presence of the cell confirms fears that the jihadist groups, which sprang up last year in northern Mali, have succeeded in traveling past the numerous roadblocks to the country’s most populous city.

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The cell was first discovered more than a month ago, according to Sougalo Togola, press officer for the Ministry of Internal Security. The information was confirmed by an intelligence official involved in the case, as well as by a member of the capital’s gendarmerie, or paramilitary police. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

‘‘There was indeed a
MUJAO cell in Bamako and it’s been dismantled,’’ said the intelligence agent.

Photographs of the seven suspects were published Tuesday on Maliweb.net, an online news portal that often publishes messages from the military. All seven have the last name ‘‘Diallo,’’ indicating they are from the Peul ethnic group.

MUJAO is led by commanders who splintered from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the Al Qaeda affiliate in North Africa. For years the fighters operated out of bases at the feet of the Sahara in the remote northern triangle of Mali. Then in March 2012, after a coup in Mali’s capital, they pushed south and succeeded in taking the important provincial capital of Gao, located 750 miles northeast of the capital.

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