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A Bloody Weekend
Terrorists kill people in Africa, again
Last weekend we saw another cruel jihadist massacre in Africa. Between June 18th and June 19th, jihadists slaughtered 132 villagers in many Malian villages in the Bankass area, in Central Mali. However, many people believe the death toll is higher.
The massacre happened when armed men in motor bikes entered in three villages in the area. Social media reportsmention men burning huts, houses, barns, and stealing cattle. They also mentioned the terrorists called the inhabitants “non Muslims”. The victims were young men mainly. The killers accused them of collaborating with the Russian mercenary group, Wagner. This group currently helps the Malian government to fight the jihadists. The terrorists use to attack civilians suspected of collaborating with the “enemy”, in this case the Malian government.
The fact that the killings took place in Central Mali shows how jihadist violence is spreading. Originally, it was focused in the North. The massacre occurred despite an army base being five kilometers away. The jihadists in the region have been blocking the road between the northern city of Gao, and the central city of Mopti.
The head of the ruling junta, Colonel AssimiGoita, declared three days of national mourning, from Tuesday. He also promised no impunity for the attackers. The Malian government accuses the jihadist group, The MacinaBatallion, of carrying out the killings. This group is affiliated with al-Qaeda. However, this Friday, June 24th, the group’s leader published a video denying responsibility for the massacre, rather blaming the Wagner group. On the other hand, another al-Qaeda linked group, Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM in Arabic), also denied having to do with the incident.
The Wagner Group has been present in Mali at least since December 2021. This deployment has been condemned by countries like the United States. The mercenary group is there to supposedly train local forces and provide advice to senior officials. Perhaps, its presence there is for coup-proofing the regime, in exchange for financial and mineral concessions, like in the Central African Republic. Back in April, the Wagner Group was accused of massacring between 200 and 400 people in the village of Moura, in Central Mali. The killings took place between March 27th and April 1st. One of its mercenaries was captured by JNIM during the same days.
The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Mali showed its concern for the attacks in the Bandiagara region, in Central Mali, and the subsequent displacement of the population. It also offered help to investigate the massacre. This year, 500 people have been killed so far in Mali. Thousands of civilians have been killed through the conflict, which started in 2012.
Mali has been fighting a jihadist insurgency since 2012, that originally began as a Tuareg separatist uprising. Then, groups like al-Qaeda and later the Islamic State seized a big piece of territory in the North. Then, in 2013, the Malian government fought back with French help. However, this insurgency has now spread to countries like Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin and Togo.
Currently, France is in the process of withdrawing from the Sahel country, and soon to abandon its last base in Gao. This way, it ends its nine years presence in Mali.
Guillermo is a journalist, writer and independent international analyst. If you like what you read, please support him by donating:
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