Mali says Islamist militant arms supplier arrested

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Mali’s security forces said they arrested a senior member of Islamist militant group Ansar Dine who trafficked weapons for attacks in Mali and over the border in Burkina Faso.

Yacouba Toure is suspected of supplying the arms, grenades and ammunition used in an attack near Burkina Faso’s second largest city, Bobo-Dioulasso, in October that killed three gendarmes, Mali’s Head Office of State Security said.

Mali, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast have all been targeted by Islamist attacks blamed on militant networks that extend beyond national borders.

Ansar Dine has claimed numerous strikes in Mali against military and U.N. targets, including a suicide and rocket attack on a U.N. base that killed six peacekeepers in February.

Mali’s state security said Toure, who was arrested on the outskirts of Bamako on Thursday, had joined Islamist groups in northern Mali in 2010, where he received military weapons training and became the main arms supplier for militants operating in the south.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo and Adama Diarra; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Robin Pomeroy