Mali conflict: at least 51 people killed in attack by suspected jihadists

Militants attacked three villages near Niger border in latest in wave of civilian massacres in Sahel region

More than 51 people have been killed in northern Mali by jihadists, who attacked three villages near the border with Niger, killing and torching homes, in the latest mass attack in a region beset by violence.

Militants on motorbikes overwhelmed the villages simultaneously on Sunday evening, entering and killing indiscriminately and burning and ransacking homes, according to security officials.

“The terrorists went into the villages and massacred everyone,” a military officer told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. “More than 40 civilians were killed by terrorists on Sunday in the villages of Karou, Ouatagouna and Daoutegeft,” they said.

A Malian army patrol was sent to the affected communities on Monday. The death toll confirmed by the patrol was at least 51, according to Reuters.

“Provisional toll is 51 killed, several others injured,” read a note from the local district administrator to the Gao regional government in south-east Mali.

Another local official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity said “20 civilians were massacred in Karou. Fourteen civilians were killed in Ouatagouna, and other civilians were killed in the hamlet of Daoutegeft.”

The attacks in Mali mark the latest in a wave of deadly attacks to have beset the Sahel region in West Africa, where largely impoverished civilians in Burkina Faso and Niger have experienced constant violence for almost a decade.

Last Wednesday, 30 people including 11 civilians and 19 security personnel were killed by suspected jihadists in northern Burkina Faso.

Armed groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State terror group have launched attacks since 2012 in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

The security crisis began with unrest in northern Mali in 2012, when President Amadou Toumani Touré was overthrown by a military uprising. Militants seized on a power vacuum, leading an insurgency that has exploited ethnic grievances across the Sahel, as well as poor governance, corruption and poverty.

The military of the former colonial ruler, France, as well as the UN peacekeepers and other European forces alongside the Malian army, have battled the insurgents, recording gains at the onset of the crisis. Yet in recent years, attacks have soared.

Thousands of civilians and troops have died, with millions in need of humanitarian support. More than 380,000 people have been displaced, fleeing their homes in northern and central Mali, with two-thirds of them children. In neighbouring Burkina Faso, more than 1.3 million have been internally displaced, in a rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis.

The presence of the so-called Barkhane military operation of about 5,000 soldiers, has grown more controversial in recent years, as violence has continued to spread in the Sahel. Civilian casualties blamed on French forces have fuelled local grievances and international criticism.

France has said it will dramatically reduce its forces by the end of next year, which has also sparked concern in regional governments, that the insurgency will grow more deadly without further support.

Contributor

Emmanuel Akinwotu

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Burkina Faso and Mali brace for migrants escaping Ivorian conflict | Liz Ford
Liz Ford: Foreign workers flee Ivory Coast as they become targets for violent groups. Mali and Burkina Faso, two of the world's poorest countries, are expecting up to 50,000

Liz Ford

18, Apr, 2011 @5:05 PM

Article image
Mali refugees flee across borders as fighting blocks humanitarian aid
Relief agencies fear conflict between French troops and Islamist militants could halt aid to displaced Malians in dangerous areas

Mark Tran

17, Jan, 2013 @12:09 PM

Article image
West Africa facing food crisis as coronavirus spreads
Pandemic adds to jihadi and climate change threats to present ‘immense challenge’ for region

Emmanuel Akinwotu West Africa correspondent

15, May, 2020 @4:20 PM

Article image
Sahel region is 'canary in the coalmine' on climate, says UN official
Mark Lowcock criticises ‘totally inadequate’ effort to help Sahel countries adapt to global heating

Jason Burke

19, Oct, 2020 @4:00 AM

Article image
Militant crackdown in Sahel leads to hundreds of civilian deaths – report
Amnesty records 200 state killings and forced disappearances in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, state members of internationally-backed G5 group

Kaamil Ahmed

12, Jun, 2020 @1:27 PM

Article image
Why are French soldiers in the Sahel? Protesters have an answer | Alexandra Reza
Macron’s autocratic attitude towards dissent in countries such as Niger and Mali is only stoking anti-French sentiment, says Alexandra Reza, research fellow at Trinity College, Oxford

Alexandra Reza

20, Feb, 2020 @6:13 PM

Article image
Sahel faces surge in violence from terror attacks
More than 4,000 deaths reported last year amid fears region may slide into violent chaos

Jason Burke

22, Jan, 2020 @11:50 AM

Mali patrols footage released by French army - video

The French army releases video on Wednesday of its ground offensive in Mali. Troops from France, Niger and Mali patrol the towns won back from Islamist rebels

undefined

06, Feb, 2013 @6:16 PM

Article image
France’s last hostage freed by Al-Qaida in Mali
Serge Lazarevic heads back to Paris amid claims his release was the result of a prisoner swap deal

Alex Duval Smith in Bamako and Kim Willsher in Paris

09, Dec, 2014 @6:50 PM

No survivors as Air Algérie wreckage found by French troops in Mali

Hollande confirms military drone discovered downed plane near Burkina Faso border and that all 118 on board perished

Kim Willsher in Paris and Monica Mark, West Africa correspondent

25, Jul, 2014 @11:09 AM