Mali Targeted By Attacks in Southern and Northern Regions Over the WeekendJune 30, 2015 in Mali
On Sunday, gunmen, identified as Islamic extremists, launched an attack and briefly occupied a village in southern Mali, near the border with Ivory Coast, before being forced out by security forces. This is the second attack to be carried out by suspected Islamic extremists over the weekend, and has prompted Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to convene a meeting of defense officials in the capital, Bamako, in order to discuss the security situation.
Sunday’s attack in southern Mali targeted the village of Fakola, located 15 kilometres (9 miles) north of the Ivory Coast border in the southern region of Sikasso. According to Mamadou Tangara, mayor of the regional capital Sikasso, the militants burned administrative buildings as well as a building that was being used as a local base for military police. Officials have reported that none of the military police officers sustained any injuries as they had left the village prior to the attack beginning. Residents have reported that assailants in the area cut the phone network. By late afternoon, security forces stationed nearby had driven the attackers out. A senior military official blamed the attack on a group of ethnic Peuhls infiltrated by fighters believed to be link to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The military source has suggested that the attackers could be the same group who attacked the village of Misseni in Sikasso earlier this month. The group, known as the Massina Liberation Front, is also suspected of clashing with government troops in the central Mopti region this month and has been blamed for several recent attacks.
On Saturday, at least twelve people, including three soldiers, were killed when suspected extremists attacked the village of Nara, located 30 kilometres (19 miles) south of the border with Mauritania. A statement released by the Malian government disclosed that gunfire erupted at around 5:00 AM local time. While the statement did not identify the assailants, a senior army officer has disclosed that military intelligence and initial witness accounts indicate that the attackers were Islamist fighters mainly from the Peuhl ethnic group. On Sunday, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita held a defense council meeting. Officials have since reported that the government will increase security in the border regions with Ivory Coast and Mauritania.
On Monday, the Malian government appealed for calm a day after jihadists ransacked a town near the Ivory Coast border in what is the second attack to occur in the south in less than three weeks. A government statement released Monday disclosed that the army has been deployed to the area to hunt down the militants, who escaped after ending their brief occupation. The statement read, “the government of the republic of Mali strongly condemns these barbaric attacks aimed at sabotaging the actions for peace and stability in Mali… The government…asks the population to remain calm and cooperate with the defense and security forces in their fight against terrorism.”
While incursions in the south remain extremely rare, the group was said to have been behind an ambush that occurred less than three weeks ago in the nearby town of Misseni, when jihadists killed a policeman and hoisted their flag at a military base.