MS Risk Blog

New Military Operations Launched in Mali and in Burkina Faso’s Border Regions

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The Malian army is currently carrying out a massive offensive in the centre of the country, which has helped to put a number of terrorists out of action.  On Monday 11 November, the Malian government released a statement saying that security forces of Mali have been engaged for a few days in a large-scale offensive against terrorist bases in some localities in the central Mopti region of the country. The statement went on to say that several extremists had been killed, without specifying the number, adding that a number of vehicles and motorcycles were burned, identity cards of several nationalities were found and military effects were recovered.    The government indicated that the operation is being carried out with the support of the Malian Air Force.  The operation comes in the wake of two recent deadly attacks that have claimed the lives of a hundred Malian soldiers in one month in what is one of the army’s heaviest losses since the 2013 French-led military intervention to oust extremists in northern Mali.  According to a statement released by Malian officials, faced with mounting pressure to contain the jihadist insurgency, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita had ordered the development of a “new operational concept that gives an important part to the offensive.”  The Malian government also formally denied the capture, and subsequent depiction on social media networks, of armoured vehicles by jihadists during recent attacks targeting positions of the Malian army.

While limited information has been released regarding the offensive in Mopti region, it coincides with another operation, known as “Bourgou 4,” which is being led by the French force Barkhane alongside local armies in the tri-border region of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.  This operation was launched at the request of Burkinabe authorities, who are struggling to contain the growing jihadist threat within the country. French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly announced the launch of the offensive during a visit to the region on 6 November, though sources in Burkina Faso have suggested that the operation has already started.  The operation represents an expansion of France’s operation in the Sahel region, and while the country has given air support to Burkinabe troops and small numbers of French troops are known to have operated in Burkina Faso for some time, this current operation represents France’s first major commitment of ground troops in the West African country.