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8 Sep, 2023 13:48

Over 60 killed in attacks on boat and military camp in Mali

Government declares three days of mourning in honor of the dozens of victims of attacks claimed by an Al-Qaeda-linked group
Over 60 killed in attacks on boat and military camp in Mali

Islamist militants attacked a military base and a passenger boat in northeastern Mali on Thursday, killing at least 64 people, including 49 civilians, and injuring several others, the West African country’s interim government has said. Around 50 suspected Islamist insurgents have also been killed, the statement added.

The raid on a camp of the Malian Armed Forces (FAMas) at Bamba in the Gao Region killed 15 soldiers, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which noted that this death toll was provisional.

The insurgents reportedly also hit a passenger boat while it was transporting civilians from Gao to Mopti across the Niger River.

Both attacks have been claimed by “terrorists from the Support Group for Islam and Muslims,” an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group, the ministry stated. About 50 of the assailants were killed by FAMas “in response to this double attack,” the authorities added.

Also in response to the latest attack, authorities in Bamako, the capital of the former French colony, have declared three days of mourning nationwide, beginning Friday.

Since last month, the local militia, the Support Group for Islam and Muslims, is said to have organized a blockade around the Malian city of Timbuktu, in the region where the civilian boat was attacked, with the loss of nearly 50 civilian lives.

Widespread killings, rapes, and lootings in villages in the northeast of Mali this year, carried out by armed groups, have forced thousands of people to flee Menaka and Gao regions, Human Rights Watch reported in July.

Mali has been fighting an Islamist insurgency since 2012, with major support from the French army, which got involved in 2013 following an increase in violence in the country’s north.

However, earlier last year, Bamako’s army-led government asked France to withdraw its troops “without delay,” claiming that French military engagement in the Sahel nation was “unsatisfactory.

The military authorities have also given the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) until December 31 to withdraw its 15,000 peacekeepers. According to Malian officials, the UN presence continues to worsen tensions.