May 8, 2021

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Several soldiers killed in attack in central Mali | News from armed groups

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Nine other soldiers were injured, five of them seriously, during a lengthy exchange of fire with armed groups.

Nine soldiers were killed in an attack near the central Malian town of Bandiagara, in an area where armed groups are endemic, a military official said.

The army and local officials had already mentioned a death toll of eight in the attack on a gendarmerie station which took place Thursday evening.

Nine Malian soldiers were also injured, five of them seriously, according to a military official who declined to be named.

A local official also said there had been a lengthy exchange of fire with a large number of fighters.

Mali has been embroiled in a brutal conflict that started as a separatist movement in the north, but has evolved into a multitude of armed groups seeking control in the central and northern regions of the country.

Insecurity has spread to the arid scrublands of the Sahel, Burkina Faso and Niger, with groups exploiting the poverty of marginalized communities and exacerbating tensions between ethnic groups.

Attacks increased fivefold between 2016 and 2020, with 4,000 people killed in the three countries last year, up from around 770 in 2016, according to the United Nations.

Rebel attacks in central Mali typically involve roadside bombs or hit and run raids on motorcycles or vans.

The region has seen a series of deadly attacks since the start of the year, including a roadside bomb that killed four United Nations peacekeepers from Côte d’Ivoire.

French and Malian troops also led a joint mission in the region, called Operation Eclipse. According to a statement from the Malian army on January 26, “100 terrorists were neutralized” during the operation.

The deteriorating security situation has created a huge humanitarian crisis across the Sahel, destroying fragile agricultural economies and hampering aid efforts.





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