Africa Mali Military News

Absence of Foreign Forces Making Mali More Vulnerable – Analyst

An analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit suggested last Friday that recent attacks in Mali took place in areas where there used to be a high concentration of foreign forces.

“The attacks that took place, they took place in northern Mali and northern Mali was where a lot of the French forces were concentrated and the U.N. forces were also heavily concentrated in these areas,” said Dr. Shaantanu Shankar.

“Northern Mali was also the region that was the source of the Malian crisis initially more than a decade ago,” he added.

A military camp in Mali’s restive north was attacked Friday, a day after two separate assaults by al-Qaida-linked insurgents killed 49 civilians and 15 government soldiers, the military said.

Thursday’s attack targeted a triple-decker passenger boat near the village of Zarho, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) east of Timbuktu.

The statement said the government killed about 50 assailants while responding to the attacks.

It declared three days of national mourning to honor the civilians and soldiers killed in the attacks.

Al-Qaida-affiliated and Islamic State-linked groups have almost doubled the territory they control in Mali in less than a year, the United Nations said in a report last month, as they take advantage of a weak government and of armed groups that signed a 2015 peace agreement.

The deadly attacks come as the U.N. prepares to withdraw its 17,000-member peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, from Mali at the government’s request.

The pullout is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

The UN deployed peacekeepers in 2013 and MINUSMA has become the most dangerous UN mission in the world, with more than 300 personnel killed.