Dozens Of Soldiers, Civilians Killed In Central Mali Attack

According to local accounts, a jihadist-led attack in central Mali this week killed dozens of soldiers and civilians.

The Malian army, on the other hand, just announced that it had repulsed a “terrorist” attack on the Farabougou camp on Tuesday, without specifying losses.

Central Mali is a flashpoint for the Sahel region’s unrest.

The difficulty in accessing remote areas or independent sources, as it is elsewhere in the country, complicates acquiring and confirming information.

The Mali government, dominated by colonels who took power by force in 2020, are reluctant to discuss losses and assert that they have the upper hand over armed groups.

A local politician, speaking on condition of anonymity for his own safety, told AFP that “the jihadist attack on Farabougou left around sixty soldiers and civilians dead”.

He also reported that some people were missing since the attack.

The army camp fell into the hands of the jihadists who, following their usual modus operandi, then quickly left the scene, he added.

“If we count the military and civilian dead and the people we haven’t heard from, that’s at least 62 people,” said another resident who also insisted on remaining anonymous.

He himself said he had no news of two of his brothers.

“I don’t know if they have been killed or if they are on the run or in hiding.”

‘Repelled a Terrorist Attack’ 

A government employee reportedly mentioned “dozens and dozens of victims” and said Farabougou, a community of a few thousand people, had been deserted.

On Thursday, the army acknowledged the attack, stating in a terse statement that it had provided “a vigorous response that repelled a terrorist attack targeting the Farabougou camp.”

Mali has been fighting an Islamist insurgency in the north of the vast West African country since 2012, taking hundreds of military and civilian fatalities.

Following that, violence ravaged the country, spilling over into neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, inflaming ethnic tensions along the way.

Following its takeover of power three years ago, Mali’s junta abandoned the country’s ties with former colonial power France in favor of rapprochement with Moscow.

The junta has also ordered the withdrawal of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which had kept roughly 15,000 soldiers and police in the nation for the previous decade.

The withdrawal, which is set to end this month, has heightened tensions between the military and rebel factions.

Farabougou is located in the Niono Cercle region, which has been heavily struck by violence from the Al-Qaeda-linked coalition Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), as well as self-defense organizations based on traditional Dozo hunters, for many years.

In 2020, the town became a symbol of the unrest when it was besieged by jihadists. Mali’s new strongman, Colonel Assimi Goïia, who had come to power in a putsch a few weeks earlier, visited the area to test the authorities’ ability to restore security.

The army later returned to Farabougou.

Written by PH

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