Intense clashes erupt in northern Mali as Tuareg rebels claim control of Bamba from the army.
Separatist fighters reportedly killed over 80 soldiers in central Mali.
Government confirms attack on army base in Mopti region without providing details.
Intense clashes have erupted in northern Mali, where Tuareg rebels claim to have seized control of the town of Bamba from the army.
This escalation in violence follows the separatist fighters’ reported killing of over 80 soldiers in the central part of the country.
The government confirmed an attack on an army base in the Mopti region on Thursday but did not provide specific details.
The recent surge in violence coincides with the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from Mali by orders from the junta.
The town of Dioura was targeted in a raid on Thursday, marking the furthest southern point of conflict since Tuareg rebels resumed hostilities in August following the collapse of a 2015 peace agreement.
Simultaneously, there has been a rise in violence from militant groups, despite the deployment of Russian Wagner Group mercenaries in December 2021.
The army had previously been targeted by al-Qaeda-linked militants in Bamba earlier in September.
The military, in a social media post, reported that the clashes in Bamba on Sunday commenced at 06:00 and described them as “intense.”
The military did not specify the identity of the fighters involved, only referring to them as “terrorists.”
An alliance of Tuareg groups, including the Co-ordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), issued a statement asserting their control over the Bamba area, a town situated on the left bank of the River Niger between the cities of Timbuktu and Gao.
These Tuareg rebels seek independence for northern Mali and oppose the army’s takeover of bases vacated by departing UN troops.
Previously, the Tuareg groups had aligned with militant factions that seized control of northern Mali in 2012, leading to French and UN intervention to prevent their advance towards the capital, Bamako.
In 2015, the Tuareg groups signed the Algiers peace agreement with the government, but militants attacks persisted from desert bases.
The ongoing insurgency was a primary reason for the military coup in Mali in 2020, as the civilian government was accused of failing to provide security.
The military pledged to end militant attacks, requesting the withdrawal of French forces and bringing in Wagner fighters.
Nonetheless, violence targeting civilians has increased by 38% in Mali this year, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED).
One al-Qaeda-linked group is responsible for 33% of the attacks, but the military and Wagner are also blamed, accounting for 29% of attacks as they extend their presence into areas that have largely been outside state control for over a decade.
These operations sometimes target civilians from various communities, suspecting them of supporting militant and rebel groups.
Acled says Wagner uses brutal tactics to instill fear not previously seen in Mali before, including “torture, summary executions, beheadings, ejection of prisoners from aircraft, and the booby-trapping of corpses”.
It highlights that the resurgent Tuareg rebellion and the escalating militant insurgency pose significant risks to the stability and safety of civilian areas across Mali.
The United Nations is scheduled to conclude its withdrawal from Mali by the end of December.
Top Indian diplomat barred from Glasgow gurdwara
Indian diplomat Vikram Doraiswami confronted by protesters at Glasgow gurdwara. High Commission...