Deadly Jihadist Attacks Target Army Base and Passenger Boat in Northern Mali, At Least 64 People Killed
Deadly Attacks in Northern Mali
In a harrowing turn of events, suspected jihadists have launched attacks on an army base and a passenger boat on the Niger river in the north of Mali. These attacks resulted in a staggering death toll of 64 people, as reported by a Malian official. The two assaults targeted the Timbuktu boat on the river and the army base at Bamba in the northern Gao region. While the exact number of fatalities in each attack wasn’t specified, a group with affiliations to al-Qaida has claimed responsibility for the assaults.
The boat was subjected to at least three rocket attacks aimed at its engines. The Niger river is a crucial transport link in the region due to the poor state of the road infrastructure and the absence of railways, making this attack particularly disruptive.
Intensified Insecurity: Al-Qaida’s Siege on Timbuktu
These attacks have come in the wake of last month’s announcement by an al-Qaida-linked alliance, the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), that it was blockading Timbuktu, a historic city in northern Mali. Since 2012, Mali has been grappling with escalating insecurity following an uprising led by ethnic Tuaregs in the north. This situation was worsened by jihadists who expanded their campaign into central Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso three years later.
Although a peace agreement was signed in 2015 between the rebels and the Malian government, effectively ending the regional rebellion, the stability was short-lived. The civilian government was overthrown in 2020, replaced by a military junta, thus straining the delicate peace agreement.
(Read Also: Mali under siege by terrorists, 64 dead)
Escalating Tensions and Threats to Peace Agreement
Recent tensions in the region have been sparked by the handover of two bases near Timbuktu by the UN peacekeeping mission to the armed forces. This move led to clashes between the army and jihadists and a confrontation with former rebels, raising concerns for the 2015 peace agreement. The handover has ignited fears that the already volatile situation could further deteriorate, posing an even greater threat to the peace and stability of the region.
A Troubled History and Uncertain Future
Mali has been in a state of unrest since 2012 when an uprising led by ethnic Tuaregs broke out in the north. The situation was exacerbated by jihadists who, three years later, expanded their campaign into central Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. The recent attacks and escalating tensions in the region are a stark reminder of the fragile peace that hangs in the balance.
While the 2015 peace agreement offered a glimmer of hope, the subsequent overthrow of the civilian government in 2020 and the installation of a military junta have strained the agreement. The recent handover of two bases by the UN peacekeeping mission to the armed forces has further exacerbated tensions, leading to clashes between the army and jihadists and confrontations with former rebels. This has raised concerns about the future of the peace agreement and the stability of the region.
As the situation continues to evolve, the international community watches with bated breath, hoping for a peaceful resolution to the escalating conflict.
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