Mali Conflict: Gunmen launched attacks in several villages in northern Mali and killed at least 51 people in retaliation for the recent arrests of several jihadist leaders. The violence took place in the violence-hit region near the borders of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso where extremists affiliated with the Islamic State group are active. Local official Oumar Sisse said the attackers arrived between the Otagouna and Karau communities around 6 p.m. on Sunday and described themselves as jihadists. “Most of the victims were in front of their homes, others were going to the mosque,” he told The Associated Press.
A military official told AFP news agency that the terrorists went to the villages and massacred people there. On Sunday, more than 40 civilians were killed by terrorists in the villages of Karaou, Otagouna and Dautegeft, they said.
On Monday, a Malian army patrol was sent to the affected communities. According to Reuters, the death toll confirmed by patrols was at least 51. The attack comes a week after Mali’s military arrested two jihadist leaders who were condemned by residents of Oautagouna and Karau.
Extremists have been a threat to the region for years. Jihadist rebels first captured cities in northern Mali in 2012. However, the rebels were driven out of the urban centers the following year in a French-led military campaign. The rebels quickly regrouped in rural areas and continued their devastating attacks on military bases.
Last month, during Bakrid at the Grand Mosque in Mali’s capital Bamako, a man attempted to attack the provisional president, Colonel Asimi Goita, with a sharp weapon. According to eyewitnesses, after the prayer in the mosque, when the Imam went to sacrifice the sheep, this incident happened.
There a man with a knife and another with a gun tried to attack the President. However, Goita narrowly escaped and his security team immediately apprehended the attacker. One person was injured in this attack. This attempt to attack the interim president comes at a time when there have been several attacks by jihadists in the central part of the country in recent days.
ALSO READ: Attack on Mali’s interim president Asimi Goita, assailant attempted to stab