Nine Mali soldiers killed in November IED attacks
Mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) killed nine Mali soldiers during November in central and southern areas in thrall to a decade-long jihadist insurgency, the military said Sunday.
The armed forces “were in November 2022 the object of three IED attacks leaving nine FAMa (armed forces) troops dead in combat, eight injured and three vehicles damaged,” said a statement distributed to social media platforms.
The bulk of the violence across the month was in the north but also hit the southern region of Sikasso, previously largely spared unrest sparked by jihadist groups such as the Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), led by an Al-Qaeda-linked Tuareg, Iyad Ag Ghali.
Since 2012, thousands have died in Mali and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes in an insurgency which has spread to neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso.
Despair at the toll prompted Malian army officers to mount a coup in 2020.
The following year saw Malian forces launch a large-scale operation against the jihadists amid widespread reports the ruling junta had brought in Russian paramilitaries — a move Bamako denies but which prompted France to pull out its troop support.
Mines and IEDs are among the jihadists’ weapons of choice. They can explode on impact or be detonated remotely.
The armed forces’ latest statement indicated troops had “neutralised” more than 70 “terrorists” during November and uncovered material to make IEDs as well as livestock and grain stocks which local populations are being obliged to hand over to the jihadists as a form of Islamic tax.
The statement is difficult to verify given the lack of access on the ground as well as independent and reliable sources to back up the army account.