Mali: 17 soldiers and 4 civilians killed in an attack in Tessit

Mali&nbsp ;: 17 soldiers and 4 civilians killed in an attack in Tessit

For several years now, Malian and foreign forces have been engaged in a fight against armed Islamist movements.

At least 17 soldiers and 4 civilians were killed on Sunday, 9 other soldiers are missing, after an attack attributed to jihadists in the town of Tessit, located in the so-called three-border area where Mali, Burkina Faso and Mali meet. Niger.

The toll is still provisional and subject to change, according to a statement from the Malian army released on Monday, which says it killed 7 enemies, presumably from the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara and benefiting from military support. drone and artillery support with the use of explosives and vehicle bombs.

The clandestine and uncoordinated overflight operations recorded by the Malian armed forces (FAMA), yesterday, Sunday and today x27; today, confirm the thesis that the terrorists benefited from major support and outside expertise, assures the army Monday evening, without giving more details.

The Malian general staff also reports 22 wounded in the army, significant material losses, including three destroyed vehicles and damage to other vehicles, military installations and homes of civilians.

Some of the civilians killed are local elected officials, relatives of the victims told AFP on condition of anonymity. On the enemy side, in addition to the seven killed, the army evokes an unknown number of dead and wounded carried away by the attackers.

A previous army toll gave 4 soldiers and 2 civilians killed, as well as 5 dead on the enemy side.

The Tessit sector is located on the Malian side of the zone of three borders, in a huge rural area not controlled by the state. It is frequently the scene of clashes and attacks.

Armed groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda, gathered under the leadership of the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM, JNIM in Arabic), are fighting the Islamic State group in the Greater Sahara (EIGS), affiliated with the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS), there. #x27;IS organization. The jihadists are seeking control of this strategic and gold-bearing area.

The Malian army, installed in a military camp near the town of Tessit, has also often been taken party in this region, in particular in Tessit. In this area sometimes called the Malian Gourma, peacekeepers from the UN mission in Mali are also active.

As for civilians, as elsewhere in Mali, they are caught in the crossfire of these actors in the conflict, and accused of being allies with one when they are not with the other. Residents of the area have fled by the thousands, notably to the nearby large town of Gao, some 150 km to the north.

French soldiers from Operation Barkhane were also carrying out activities there until a few months ago. They are now preparing to leave their last base in Mali, in Gao, to redeploy to Niger.

On Sunday, the Barkhane force announced that it had neutralized a cadre and several jihadist fighters in the Telatai region, 200 km northeast of Gao, after having identified them thanks to the cross-checking of different intelligence sources.

A man holds up a sign during a mass demonstration in Bamako on January 14, 2022.

In a very security context degraded, the junta decided to separate from the old French ally present in Mali for nine years, and to relaunch cooperation with Russia.

Mali has been plunged into turmoil since 2012. Jihadist spread, initially confined to the north of the country, spread to central and southern Mali, as well as to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

At least two jihadist attacks killed 12 civilians on Saturday in the center and 5 police officers on Sunday in the south-west of the country.

At the end of July, in At least 11 coordinated attacks hit Malian territory, mostly attributed to Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists. One of them took place in Kati, at the gates of Bamako and at the heart of the Malian military apparatus.

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