40 Dead, 60 Missing After Al-Qaeda Rocks Malian Military Camps
A lethal attack on two Malian military camps in the early hours of Sept. 30 left 40 dead, amongst whom 25 are Malian troops, and 60 more were reported missing.
The attacks are believed to have taken place simultaneously at Boulikessi and Mondoro military bases, which are both situated in Central Mali near its border with neighboring Burkina Faso. According to Niger General Oumarou Namatou Gazama, “assailants rode into the community of Boulikessi with heavy weaponry overnight Sunday to Monday to attack a Malian battalion of the regional G5 Sahel Force.” Gazama believes the attacks have been perpetrated by a heavily armed Ansarul Islam, an Al-Qaeda offshoot in the Sahel.
The G5 Sahel Force is a coalition comprising Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania. It was formed in 2017 with the aim of countering radical Islamic insurgents in the region.
The Malian government states that Malian soldiers regained control over Boulikessi with the assistance of Burkina Faso troops after a long-armed struggle, killing 15 terrorists and demolishing five of their vehicles. According to a statement made by Malian government spokesperson Yaya Sangaré, the nature of the attack and the weapons involved caused “heavy equipment losses and major damage.”
An anonymous source reports that an additional two civilians were killed amidst the armed conflict between Malian troops and the extremists.
This attack is not an isolated incident. Mali has struggled with radical Islamic terrorism and ethnic tensions since 2012 when a Jihadist movement manifested itself in the West African nation’s northern and central regions. Attempts by the Malian Armed Forces, along with interventions of the French Army, have largely failed in ousting the Jihadists.
In March, at least 20 Malian soldiers were lost in an Islamist raid on the Dioura army camp in the central part of the country. In June, 40 civilians were slain when shooters rampaged a couple of towns in Mali’s Mopti region. Later that month, another 95 civilians were murdered by gunmen and arsonists in Mali’s Dogon village.
The Jihadist attacks are proliferating at such a rate that they are running out of room in Mali. In the past two weeks, at least 30 civilians have been killed in the Bam Province of Burkina Faso, south of the border with Mali. Most of the turbulence has taken place in the villages of Zimtenga and Bourzanga, forcing up to 19,000 people from their homes in three days.
The Islamist stronghold in northern Burkina Faso, believed to comprise members loyal to ISIL and Al-Qaeda, has proven to be a geopolitically strategic center of operation for the insurgents, providing unimpeded access to the borders of Mali and Niger. This division of Jihadists is alleged to be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people.