Friday, March 31, 2023

Gunmen kill at least 20 civilians in Mali

Gunmen Kill At Least 20 Civilians In Mali

Robbers in Mali over the weekend killed at least 20 civilians in attacks on villages near the northern town of Gao, while a landmine killed a UN peacekeeper in the difficult region.

“Criminal terrorists” killed at least 20 civilians in several hamlets in Anchawadj municipality, a few dozen kilometers north of Gao, on Saturday, a senior police official said, asking to remain anonymous.

A local official blamed the attacks on jihadists and set the death toll at 24, saying the killings took place at Ebak, about 35 kilometers (23 miles) north of Gao, the region’s main town.

The official described a “general panic” in the area.

The situation in Anchawadj was “very worrying,” and civilians fled the area for fear of further violence, he added.

Peacekeeper killed

After the bloodshed on Saturday, a landmine killed a UN peacekeeper on Sunday while on patrol further north in Kidal, tweeted the head of the UN MINUSMA Mali force, El Ghassim Wane.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ spokesman has condemned the assassination of a Guinean peace activist.

“Attacks targeting the United Nations peacekeeping force could constitute war crimes under international law,” said Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq.

Although there was no official confirmation that the attacks were carried out by jihadist groups, fighters affiliated with either Al Qaeda or the Islamic State group are active in the region.

Growing unrest

The region has become increasingly violent and unstable since Tuareg separatist rebels rose up against the government in 2012.

Jihadist fighters used their rebellion to launch their own offensive, threatening the capital Bamako in the south until a French-led force repulsed them in 2013.

The Tuareg separatists and the government agreed to a peace agreement in 2015, but it has yet to be implemented.

So now Mali’s weak national government is facing both separatist and jihadist uprisings in the north of the country – a largely desert region with virtually no state infrastructure.

“A good part of the Gao region and that of Menaka” is occupied by the jihadists, the Gao official said. “The state must do something.”

Some of the rebel groups also fought against each other while fighting for influence and territory. Traders and other criminal groups contribute to the volatile mix.

Government stability has meanwhile been disrupted by military coups in August 2020 and May 2021.

Following his latest report on the region, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned last month that instability in Mali and Burkina Faso was undermining efforts to stabilize the region.

The security situation in the Gao region has deteriorated badly in recent months, he said.

He also expressed concern about Menaka, the eastern region bordering Niger.

Initially captured by a Tuareg rebel group a decade ago, it has since been taken over by Islamic groups.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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