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Over 50 reported dead in terrorist attacks by suspected jihadists in Mali

Over 50 reported dead in terrorist attacks by suspected jihadists in Mali
Local authorities have reported that three villages near the Mali-Niger border have been attacked by suspected Islamist extremists, killing at least 51. The attack is the latest such incident in the greater Sahel region.

On Sunday, armed militants reportedly simultaneously set upon the three Malian towns on motorcycles before killing civilians and ransacking their homes. In a note to the regional governor seen by Reuters, an Asongo district administrator said on Monday that the provisional death toll was 51, and that several others have been injured.

Local sources reported that the militants set themselves up at the entrances to the towns and began firing randomly at civilians. On Monday, a Malian army patrol was sent to the attacked villages to try to stabilize the region and provide aid to survivors.

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“More than 40 civilians were killed by terrorists on Sunday in the villages of Karou, Ouatagouna and Daoutegeft,” an unnamed military officer told AFP. He added that the attackers “went into the villages and massacred everyone.”

Sunday’s assault is the latest such attack in Mali and in the Greater Sahel region. Just last week, another attack by suspected jihadists killed 30 in Burkina Faso. In June, Burkina Faso suffered its deadliest attack since 2015, as suspected jihadists attacked the village of Solhan and killed 132 people. Local authorities said that the gunmen included “young people aged 12 to 14.” 

Since civil unrest broke out in Mali in 2012, when President Amadou Toumani Touré was overthrown by a military uprising, the Sahel has become a breeding ground for jihadist terrorism. The vast, largely ungoverned plains have provided the perfect setting for Islamic State- and Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups to mobilize.

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The French military and UN forces have partnered with regional authorities in an effort to counter and suppress terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, but have struggled to stabilize the region. Jihadist attacks continue to devastate Mali, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and other neighboring states. 

Additionally, French President Emmanuel Macron announced in July that France will withdraw its 5,100 anti-jihadist military force in the region by early 2022, replacing the operation in its current form with a new and smaller contingent.

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