The Malian air force intervened on Friday to destroy a “terrorist base” in northern Mali, near Burkina Faso and Niger, an area where dozens of civilians died this week. The “violent fighting left “eight soldiers dead” and “57 terrorists neutralized”, according to an army statement.
Eight Malian soldiers were killed and nearly 60 “terrorists neutralized” in northern Mali during an operation by the Malian air force, the Malian army announced on Friday evening, February 18.
This intervention was “for the benefit of a patrol hooked up by unidentified armed men in the Archam sector, west of Tessit”, a few tens of kilometers from the borders with Burkina Faso and Niger, according to the army.
Around 40 Malian civilians were killed this week in this area plagued by clashes between jihadists by a group affiliated with the Islamic State organization, various local sources told AFP on Friday.
The jihadists allegedly responsible for this killing of civilians considered their victims to be accomplices of their rivals, according to the same local sources.
About sixty terrorists “neutralized”
The facts occurred in the so-called three-border area, one of the centers of violence that is shaking the Sahel. The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS) and the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), an alliance of armed groups belonging to the Al-Qaeda nebula, are particularly active there. In addition to attacking national or foreign armies, they have been waging a territorial war there since 2020.
The Malian army unit was looking for “terrorist sanctuaries” to destroy them. It also aimed “the protection of civilian populations recently victims of extreme abuses by terrorist groups which caused their forced displacement” to the three-border area, the army said.
“The total destruction of the terrorist base, following violent fighting around the refuge forest, left eight dead, 14 injured, 5 missing and two vehicles destroyed on the Fama side”, the Malian armed forces, detailed the state -major in his press release.
“The Fama air troops dealt with and neutralized columns of motorcyclists who were trying to overwhelm the hanging unit,” he continues. “The combing made it possible to count 57 terrorists neutralized and various materials destroyed”, adds the text.
In this area known as the three borders also operate, on the Malian side, the national army, the French soldiers of the Barkhane force as well as the European special forces of Takuba, and the blue helmets of the UN in Mali (Minusma).
France and its European partners formalized their military withdrawal from Mali on Thursday, leading other foreign actors to openly question their commitment, and Minusma to study the impact of this disengagement. French and Europeans invoked the “multiple obstructions of the authorities” Malian.
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Mali has been the scene, since 2012, of operations by jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State organization, as well as violence of all kinds perpetrated by self-proclaimed self-defense militias and bandits. The regular forces are themselves accused of abuses.
The violence that started in the north in 2012 spread to the center, then to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger. They caused thousands of civilian and military deaths as well as hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, despite the deployment of UN, French and African forces.