Malian ex-leader's home attacked by armed robbers

A robber was killed during a bungled raid by an armed gang at the private residence of former Malian president Alpha Oumar Konare in the country's capital, police and a guard told AFP on Saturday.

Konare, who was head of state from 1992 to 2002, was away from the property in the eastern outskirts of Bamako when the gang struck on Friday night.

But his wife, historian Adame Ba Konare, was at home with the couple's grandchildren when the gunmen stormed the compound, a member of the family's official guard told AFP.

"More than 10 people dressed in civilian clothes cut the electricity in the area, climbed the walls and fired inside the Konare residence," he said.

"At the moment, we do not know who carried out or ordered it, but they wanted to kill. We retaliated in self-defence, this is when one of the attackers was killed," the guard said.

"Everything happened quickly. The light was cut in the residence, we heard gunshots and the guards responded."

A senior officer in the national police force based in Bamako told AFP investigators were working on a theory that the robbers were members of an armed gang which specialises in stealing electric cables.

"They plunged the area into darkness to steal electrical wiring. They exchanged gunfire with the guards of the residence, where one of them was killed," he said.

"They weren't able to get into the main Konare residence... We are hunting the attackers who got away."

President Ibrahima Boubacar Keita condemned the raid "in the strongest terms" and praised Konare's guards for protecting the family.

"When our country returns to peace and security, the presidency of the republic calls on the authorities responsible for the investigation to make every effort to find and punish the perpetrators and accomplices of aggression," his office said in a statement.

Malian police recovered "at least one mobile phone" from the body of the assailant who was killed, a source close to the force told AFP.

"We already know that the assailants attacked the premises in one group, who came from the north side of the residence, and another which arrived from the Niger river side," he added.

Since his voluntary departure from power in 2002, Konare has remained largely private, avoiding commenting on Malian political life.

Bamako is rated as "critical" for crime, by the US State Department, which says that while violent crime is infrequent, petty crimes, such as pick pocketing and theft, are common in urban areas.

"Although most crimes are of an opportunistic and non-violent nature, criminals are often armed with guns or knives and will not hesitate to use violence if they encounter any resistance from their victim," it said in its 2013 crime and safety report on the country.