The government of the Republic of Mali in West Africa confirmed on Monday that as many as 132 civilians have been killed in recent attacks by Islamic terrorists in the country.
According to authorities, the killings occurred when numerous villages in the Bankass area in Mali’s central Mopti region were attacked on Saturday and Sunday. The attacks were carried out by Islamic terrorists belonging to the Katiba Macina armed group affiliated with the dreaded terrorist group Al-Qaeda.
Colonel Assimi Goita, the chairman of the ruling junta, has declared three days of national mourning, beginning on Tuesday, June 21.
Meanwhile, Moulaye Guindo, the mayor of Bankass told The Associated Press news agency, “Investigators are on the spot today to find out exactly what happened.”
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) took to Twitter today to share a press release wherein it strongly condemned the attack on civilian populations in the Center of Mali.
#CommuniquéDePresse – La MINUSMA condamne les attaques contre les populations civiles dans le Centre du #Mali 🇲🇱 et dans la région de #Gao. #FaireTaireLesArmes— MINUSMA (@UN_MINUSMA) June 20, 2022
Lire le communiqué ici 👉 https://t.co/JTup9AKQTw pic.twitter.com/4wfEapzRys
Yesterday too, it had issued a statement on Twitter saying it is concerned by “attacks against civilians in the Bandiagara region (the area of central Mali) perpetrated by extremist groups. These attacks have reportedly caused casualties and displacement of populations,” the Tweet read, adding that “MINUSMA immediately contacted the civilian and military authorities and plans to send a support mission to protect civilians and stabilize the area.”
The attack which occurred over the weekend indicates how rapidly Islamic extremist violence is expanding from Mali’s north to the country’s core regions, such as Bankass. In fact, several hundred civilians have been killed in attacks by Islamic terrorists in central and northern Mali since the beginning of 2022.
Islamic insurgency in Mali, Africa
Mali, a landlocked country in West Africa, has been struggling to contain the Islamic terrorism which first emerged in the north of the country in 2012, overtaking a rebellion by mostly ethnic Tuareg separatists. Attacks have since spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and are threatening other neighbouring countries as well. The entire region remains unstable.
France, which had earlier ruled these regions, had launched a military operation to drive back the Islamists in 2013. Over the years, fighting and civil unrest have engulfed the country and spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger leaving thousands dead in recent years. Hundreds of thousands of people remain internally displaced, many seeking ways to flee to other countries for survival.
The United Nations has some 13,000 troops deployed in Mali as part of its peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSMA, while France has 5,100 personnel deployed in the Sahel region.