Malian special forces have captured a top commander of the Ansar Dine jihadist group, which is responsible for several attacks. A deadly attack on a military base last week was claimed by Ansar Dine.
Security forces arrested Ansar Dine regional commander Mahmoud Barry, also known as "Abou Yehiya," as he was traveling near a government military base that came under attack last week, army spokesman Modibo Naman Traore said.
Barry is one of the most senior figures in the al Qaeda-aligned Ansar Dine and close to its leader Lyad Ag Ghali.
Mali accuses Barry of being behind numerous attacks, including one last week on a military base near the border with Mauritania that left 17 soldiers dead and another 35 wounded. The attack was claimed by Ansar Dine and another group.
The "coordinated terrorist attack" prompted the government to declare a 10-day state of emergency to root out the jihadists, who carry out sporadic attacks in the northern and central parts of the country.
A French military intervention in Mali in 2013 pushed back jihadist forces from territory in much of northern Mali after they hijacked an ethnic Tuareg rebellion seeking greater autonomy.
Al-Qaeda affiliated groups are not party to the peace accords and carry out regular attacks on UN and Malian forces.
cw/msh (AFP, Reuters)