At least 132 people died in a series of attacks in central Mali last weekend, the Malian government announced on Monday. The government claims that the Islamist movement Katiba Macina is behind the attacks.
Members of the extremist group reportedly attacked at least three villages in the Mopti region overnight from Saturday to Sunday. Katiba Macina has ties to the North African branch of Al-Qaeda, among others.
A number of attackers are now pictured, the government said in a statement. The death toll could continue to rise.
Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the violence since the start of this year. In addition to attacks by jihadists, there have also been civilian casualties in army attacks.
The security situation in Mali has deteriorated sharply in recent years despite the presence of a large UN mission. It has about fourteen thousand peacekeepers under the command of Dutch Lieutenant-General Kees Matthijssen. Nearly 300 UN soldiers were killed in the mission. This makes it the UN’s most dangerous mission.
France announced in February that it would withdraw from Mali. The French are leaving because they oppose Mali’s military regime, which seized power in 2020 after a coup. The regime works with the Russian mercenary company Wagner Group, which has sent hundreds of mercenaries into the country.
The UN and other European countries will remain active in Mali for the time being. Still, a new mission with Dutch helicopter gunships would be out of the question.