In a tragic development, Mali witnessed two devastating attacks by suspected al-Qaeda-linked militants on Thursday, September 7, resulting in the loss of 64 lives, with dozens of civilians among the casualties. The country’s transitional government revealed this grim news.
The attacks, which occurred on the same day, struck two separate locations – a passenger boat on the Niger River near Timbuktu and an army base situated in Bamba, within the northern Gao region. According to an official statement released by the interim government, these attacks claimed the lives of 49 civilians and 15 soldiers.
The first incident unfolded when an “armed terrorist group” targeted the passenger boat around 11 a.m. local time, near Rharous Cercle in the Timbuktu region. The Malian Army issued a statement confirming this attack.
The Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), a militant organization associated with al Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for these harrowing attacks, further underscoring the growing threat posed by extremist groups in the region.
Mali is situated in the Sahara-Sahel region, an area that has witnessed a surge in violence over recent years as an Islamic insurgency continues to fester along the borders of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. This ongoing instability has had severe humanitarian consequences, with nearly 9 million people in Mali in dire need of assistance. Alarming reports from UN agencies earlier this month highlighted the risk of starvation facing 200,000 children in the country.
These attacks serve as a stark reminder of the pressing security challenges faced by Mali and its neighboring nations in the Sahel region, as they grapple with the menace of extremist violence and its devastating impact on innocent lives.