Five soldiers dead and eleven missing in northern Mali attack

Five soldiers dead and eleven missing in northern Mali attack Five soldiers dead and eleven missing in northern Mali attack
Colonel Assimi Goita, head of Mali's military government, attends a ceremony for the 10 Malian soldiers that the army said were killed in attacks in Gueri town, at the army headquarters in Kati, Mali, September 6, 2020 [Matthieu Rosier/Reuters]

Five soldiers have been reported dead and eleven others are missing following an attack on two military camps in northern Mali, according to the army.

The attack, claimed by armed rebel groups, took place in the town of Lere, in the Timbuktu region of northern Mali. The army also confirmed that it had lost a plane during the fighting.

Five soldiers dead and eleven missing in northern Mali attack
Colonel Assimi Goita, head of Mali’s military government, attends a ceremony for the 10 Malian soldiers that the army said were killed in attacks in Gueri town, at the army headquarters in Kati, Mali, September 6, 2020 [Matthieu Rosier/Reuters]
The army stated on social media that approximately 30 assailants had been “neutralized” during the attack on Sunday, which it referred to as an act of terrorism. The Coordination of Azawad Movements, an alliance of armed groups primarily made up of Tuaregs, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The CMA, which initially took up arms in 2012 with the goal of achieving autonomy or independence, also announced that it had seized control of two military camps in Lere and successfully shot down an army plane.

This incident is the latest in a series of attacks against army positions in northern Mali, where armed groups and separatists have seen a recent resurgence in activity. Just earlier this month, the CMA seized a military camp in Bourem, which is located between the historic cities of Gao and Timbuktu.

The conflict in Mali dates back to 2012 when a rebel insurrection allowed al-Qaeda-linked armed groups to gain control of most of the northern region. This prompted France to intervene militarily and led to a war that has resulted in the death of thousands and has destabilized the Sahel region.

The camps of the peacekeepers are being handed over to Malian authorities, but the separatists argue that they should be returned to their control.

Following double coups in 2020 and 2021, Mali’s government took power and subsequently pushed out France’s counterinsurgency force in 2022 and the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA this year. Years before being forced to leave the country, MINUSMA already transferred its Lere camp to the Malian army.

Despite denying it, there is a widespread belief that Bamako is collaborating with the Russian paramilitary company Wagner to address its insecurity concerns.

According to a report from United Nations experts in August, ISIL (ISIS) has nearly doubled its territorial influence in Mali within a year.

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