Attacks on Malian Armed Forces leave nearly 50 dead

The attacks were coordinated against the FAMa bases of Mondoro and Boulkessi
Atalayar_Soldados Ejército Mali

REUTERS/BENOIT TESSIER  -   Soldiers of the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa)

Jihadism has once again struck Mali, although this time it was not Barkhane's French troops, but the Malian armed forces. Several groups of attackers reportedly attacked the military bases in the towns of Boulkessi and Mondoro, both very close to the border with Burkina Faso, in the so-called Liptako-Gourma region.

The attacks took place early Sunday morning, leaving at least six FAMa troops dead and nearly twenty wounded. According to the FAMa through Colonel Souleymane Dembelé, around thirty of the assailants were reportedly killed during the assaults, so it seems clear that this time the FAMa were able to act quickly and effectively in responding to the attacks.

Atalayar_Fuerzas Armadas Mali
PHOTO/AFP - Troops of the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa)

The attack has not yet been claimed, but it is an area that is frequented by the two main terrorist groups operating in this part of the Sahel, the Al Qaeda branch (JNIM) and the Daesh branch (ISGS). According to the FAMa communiqué, the attacking groups also reportedly suffered a large loss of equipment, including vehicles and weapons.

In the vicinity of the town of Boulkessi, French forces from Operation Barkhane carried out an operation a few days ago in which several terrorists were also killed and a large number of motorbikes destroyed. The French government has already warned that the number of troops deployed will be reduced in the near future, after a series of successful operations over the past year in which several terrorist leaders were neutralised. However, the reality of recent months has left the Sahel, especially in Mali, increasingly mired in violence.

Atalayar_Barkhane 3
AFP/ PASCAL GUYOT - A French soldier from Operation Barkhane, an anti-terrorist mission in the Sahel, patrols while a Eurocopter Tiger helicopter (Eurocopter EC665 Tiger) operates a tactical flight in Mali

The Sahel, specifically the group formed by Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, will hold a summit in February in the city of N'Djamena, where the future of the G5-Sahel and the role to be played by the 5,000 troops of its Joint Force, which is currently deployed in several of the border areas of the five countries, will be debated, but whose role should become increasingly important as the French presence is reduced.

Macron continues to make moves with European allies and now also with the United States. While Donald Trump's policy was to reduce AFRICOM, the US command for the African continent, the French president and the new US president, Joe Biden, have issued a communiqué in which they express their firm desire for greater cooperation in the Sahel region. Although the US presence is not very large in this area, they do maintain significant capabilities in Niger to support Barkhane through the Reaper drones deployed in the region.