Northern Mali: suicide attack against a military camp, the day after a double deadly attack

A Malian army camp was targeted by a suicide attack in Gao on Friday, the day after a double attack blamed on jihadists which killed at least 64 civilians and soldiers in the north, where tension is rising day by day

Northern Mali: suicide attack against a military camp, the day after a double deadly attack

A Malian army camp was targeted by a suicide attack in Gao on Friday, the day after a double attack blamed on jihadists which killed at least 64 civilians and soldiers in the north, where tension is rising day by day.

The military spoke in a brief social media post of a "complex" attack in the airport area, meaning it involved different means. She did not provide a report.

An airport employee contacted by AFP reported an attack carried out using two vehicle bombs, accompanied by gunfire. The airport was closed, he said.

Like the one the day before against a Bamba military position further west, the attack was claimed by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), an alliance affiliated with Al-Qaeda, reported SITE, American NGO specializing in monitoring radical groups.

It comes in a context of growing pressure from armed groups on the state in the north for a few weeks, raising fears of an eruption in a country already plunged into trouble since 2012.

At least 64 people, 49 civilians and 15 soldiers according to a government report, were killed Thursday in the Bamba sector between Gao and Timbuktu during two separate attacks attributed to the GSIM against a passenger boat sailing on the Niger River and a military position.

Two elected officials from Gao told AFP that the toll was in fact much heavier. The government assured that the military response had made it possible to "neutralize about fifty terrorists".

Access to reliable information is complicated by a multitude of factors: remoteness, lack of communications, silence from the authorities. As often, very few images have circulated of the attack on the boat. Even in a country accustomed to violence, this attack seems to have little precedent.

Timbuktu was targeted by at least three rockets, according to the Malian shipping company Comanav, which with a few boats provides an important connection serving large cities on the river. Amid the prevailing insecurity, the river is considered a little safer than the road.

Soldiers were on board as escorts, a military official said on condition of anonymity.

Children appear on a list of injured that AFP consulted. Calls to donate blood have been made to help them.

A teacher speaking on condition of anonymity said the daughter of one of his aunts was on board with her six children. "We have no news. The list of injured has been sent, their names are not on it," he said.

Authorities have declared three days of national mourning starting Friday.

The north is in the grip of an escalating struggle for territory between a multitude of actors: jihadist groups against the Malian army, jihadist groups among themselves, Tuareg armed groups against jihadists, and Tuareg groups against the Malian army.

The Timbuktu region has been subject to a blockade imposed by the GSIM since August. Vast areas have come under the control of the Islamic State organization in the Gao region.

It is from the north, with the independence and Salafist insurgencies of 2012, that the turmoil in which Mali is still plunged began and which spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, causing thousands of deaths. The separatists signed a peace agreement with the Malian state in 2015 while the jihadists continued the fight. But hostilities have never seemed so close to resuming between the Tuareg and the army.

Alghabass Ag Intalla, head of the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), a predominantly Tuareg alliance signatory to the 2015 agreement, called on his people on social networks "to join the ranks of (their) brothers" on field. He spoke of a “decisive hour”.

A security reconfiguration is taking place in the north after the departure of the French anti-jihadist force in 2022 and that, in progress, of the UN mission (Minusma), both pushed towards the exit by the junta which took power by force in 2020. The CMA does not accept that Minusma hands over the keys to its camps to the Malian authorities in an area over which it claims control.

The junta makes the restoration of sovereignty one of its mantras. It turned militarily and politically towards Russia. But various experts believe that the situation has deteriorated further under his leadership.

sd-kt-mk-lal/sba

08/09/2023 18:25:52 -         Bamako (AFP) -         © 2023 AFP

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