Mali: Dozens of civilians massacred in militant raids on villages | News | DW | 09.08.2021

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Mali: Dozens of civilians massacred in militant raids on villages

At least 51 villagers were massacred by suspected extremists in northern Mali, while 12 troops were killed in neighboring Burkina Faso.

French soldiers patrol in northern Burkina Fasso in an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC)

Militant extremists continue to operate in the region despite the presence of multinational forces

At least 51 civilians were massacred by suspected extremists in northern Mali over the weekend, authorities said on Monday.

Gunmen stormed three villages near Mali's border with Niger, according to a military official who spoke to news agency AFP. According to the source, "the terrorists went into the villages and massacred everyone."

The official, whose identity was not revealed for security reasons, said: "Twenty civilians were massacred in Karou. Fourteen civilians were killed in Ouatagouna, and other civilians were killed in the hamlet of Daoutegeft."

A map of the site of militant attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso attack on soldiers

Meanwhile, in neighboring Burkina Faso. 12 troops were killed and eight others were wounded in an ambush in the northwest of the country.

Communications Minister Ousseni Tamboura confirmed the attack, saying that "members of the ground forces and the rapid intervention force GARSI were ambushed."

The attack is understood to have taken place in the northwest Boucle du Mouhoun region.

In response to the deadly ambush, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore tweeted: "We continue to wage without concession the war the obscurantist and barbaric forces have imposed on our country."

How are these attacks linked?

Mali has been battling an insurgency since 2012. That conflict has since spilled over into neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso.

While its not yet known who is directly responsible for these most recent attacks, a number of extremist militant groups are actively operating in the border region between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. The jihadi groups have links to al-Qaida and the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) group.

The militants are also responsible for killing thousands and displacing millions in West Africa's Sahel region.

What is being done to combat attacks in the region?

In 2017 the United Nations Security Council welcomed the deployment of a task force known as the Group of Five for the Sahel Joint Task Force (G5 Sahel Joint Task Force).

This was in response to the threat the jihadi groups posed in the region. The G5 countries as they are known are made up of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

The UN regards the contingent as being a vital part of the security response to armed extremist groups.

The G5 Sahel joint force is supported by the UN's Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (Minusma) and France, who has announced a troop withdrawal.

Militant attacks have continued despite the efforts of these deployments.

Earlier this month, 15 soldiers were killed in an ambush in southwestern Niger.

In June, a dozen German soldiers were among 15 UN peacekeepers injured in a bomb attack at a camp in northern Mali.

The security and political situation in Mali continues to be unstable following a string of coups in the country, the most recent being in May.

Just last month there was an attempt on the life of Mali's president, Assimi Goita.

kb/rm/rs (AFP, Reuters)