The West African country lived on Monday one of the worst attacks of recent years caused by Islamic fundamentalism, which began an offensive coordinated by radical groups that have left more than 40 dead to date 25 of them soldiers of the Forces Malian Army (FAMA) and 15 terrorists and about 60 missing soldiers, which are unknown if they can be kidnapped by jihadists.
The attacks took place in the early hours of Monday at the military barracks of Boulkessy and Mondoro, near the border with Burkina Faso. The objective was to attack the FAMA and the G5, a military alliance formed by Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad. Although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
The suspicions are centered on Ansarul Islam, an active group in Mali and Burkina Faso and close to the preacher Amadou Koufa, a peul nomadic Sahel-Malian people who in recent years has exerted a voracious opposition to the government of Ibrahim Boubacar. In fact, according to a first statement issued by the G5, this would be the terrorist group that would have perpetrated the massacre.
On Tuesday night the Malian government was able to resume control of the affected barracks, however, there is no arrest among the attackers, who would have managed to flee. Now, the Malian Armed Forces and the Burkinabe army have started a search, aided by French soldiers of the Barkhane force, deployed in the Sahel region to help combat the rise of terrorism in the region in recent years.
Continuous threats to their security have occurred since the coup of March 22, 2012 by a group of soldiers protesting the lack of means to fight the rebels. Amadou Haya Sanogo, the coup leader, deposed Amadou Toumani Touré, the then president of the Republic, and eventually ceded power to Dioncouda, president of the National Assembly in those days.
That coup benefited rebel Tuareg (desert tribes) groups confronted intermittently with the Bamako government since the independence war in 1960 which, supported by terrorist cells, managed to gain control of the north of the country for ten months.
The MNLA, a political-military movement that integrated these rebels, declared its independence in the north of the country on April 6, 2012, taking strategic cities such as Timbuktu, Gao or Kidal.
On May 27 of that same year, the Tuareg Salafist group Ansar Dine, associated with Al Qaeda, stood up and set aside its goal of independence to try to impose Islamic law throughout the country. A month later there was a confrontation between Islamists and moderate Tuaregs that resulted in 20 fatalities and the takeover of the city of Gao by the radicals. In this way, radical Islamist factions prevailed over the rebel side.
At the end of 2012, the UN Security Council, at the suggestion of the then French President François Hollande, unanimously approved the deployment of an international mission in the country given the violent look he had acquired after the radical Islamist offensives, which caused that both the MNLA and Ansar Dine announce their willingness to negotiate with the Government of Bamako.
However, during January 2013 they continued their progress and that was when, faced with the threat of radicals reaching the capital, Traoré asked for help from France and then the first Galas troops arrived on the ground, who helped the Malian Army to curb the offensives jihadists
The jihadists were ‘expelled’ in 2013 thanks to an international military intervention led by France, however, there are areas of Mali, especially in the north and center, that escape state control, so in recent years the groups Terrorists have continued to act tirelessly.
France and Mali keep a common past. The African country was a French colony until 1960. Both countries have a close relationship that has remained firm since the independence of Mali. That is why France considers as its own any security threat in the Sahel, where it has great economic interests and where thousands of its citizens also live.
In addition, from Paris we want to prevent northern Mali from becoming a terrorist bunker, which could increase the likelihood of these attacks coming to France, so since the outbreak of the institutional and security crisis in 2012 , since the French Executive efforts have been doubled to contain the risk of jihadist attacks in the territory.
A recent report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), a Brussels-based center of thought, noted that “Mali is so unstable that all scenarios are possible, including a new military coup and an outbreak of violence. If the transitional authorities fail to impose order and reconquer the north, chaos will allow religious extremism to spread and terrorist violence to go beyond Mali’s borders. ”
At the same time that the balance of one of the deadliest attacks of jihadism in Mali is known, the Human Rights Watch organization denounced the Malian Armed Forces (FAMA) for the conditions of detention of some suspects in which there were at least four Occasional amputations of his limbs.
A statement issued Wednesday by HRW-Sahel calls on the Ministry of Defense to adopt “international standards for the treatment of prisoners and end abusive practices comparable to torture or inhuman treatment.”
The US organization conducted an investigation between 2018 and 2019, interviewed 33 former prisoners, almost all with scars on wrists, elbows and ankles, who had been accused of help or complicity with jihadist groups.
Almost all of them testified to having been tied and gagged with great pressure on their limbs and for hours and even days, to the point that at the end of their interrogations their hands or feet were blackened and had to be amputated four times, leaving the rest with severe chronic pain or numbness in its members.
The Malian Ministry of Defense has responded to HRW by saying that it is aware of the accusations, that it is investigating at least one case and that it has opened a training program for soldiers on good practices with detainees.