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Mali: UN to investigate attacks in Bandiagara and Gao regions

More than 100 civilians have been killed in attacks in the Bandiagara and Gao regions of Mali
Un miembro del personal de mantenimiento de la paz patrulla una aldea en la región de Mopti (Malí).

MINUSMA/Gema Cortes  -   A peacekeeper patrols a village in the Mopti region of Mali

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has strongly condemned these "heinous acts" as serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

"Pursuant to its human rights mandate, MINUSMA will expedite an investigation into the precise circumstances of these attacks," the UN Mission said, noting that this will involve "supporting the relevant Malian authorities in their efforts tò identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of these heinous acts."

More than 130 civilians have been killed in central Mali in attacks blamed on al-Qaeda affiliated jihadists, one of the worst massacres known to the country and the latest in an ongoing series of killings across the Sahel. The government on Monday (20 June) reported 132 deaths, which it blamed on the Macina Katiba of Fulani preacher Amadou Kouffa, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda.

Colonel Assimi Goïta declared three days of national mourning

"MINUSMA has learned with dismay of the attacks perpetrated by extremist groups against several villages in the Bandiagara region of central Mali on 18 and 19 June 2022," the UN said, noting that more than 100 civilians weré killed. And several homes as well as shops were burned. "These attacks have also caused the forced displacement of several hundred civilians," the UN mission said.

The media reported scenes of killings by armed men in Diallassagou and two surrounding localities in the Bankass circle in the centre of the country, one of the main hotbeds of the violence that has been bloodying the Sahel for years. "Similarly, the Mission has assisted́ in the evacuation of wounded people to the town of Sévaré," the UN noted.

According to MINUSMA, other "concrete arrangements" are envisaged in support of the Malian authorities' efforts tò assist the population and strengthen their securitý. More generally, the Mission will continue "the action undertaken to help̀ the stabilisation of Central Mali", which is "one of its strategic priorities".

Following these tragic events, the Head of State, Colonel Assimi Goïta, declared three days of national mourning on Monday.

Attacks in Gao have also caused the death of dozens of civilians

In addition, the UN Mission reported other attacks, which also took place in several localities in the Gao region, causing "the death of dozens of civilians, as well as the displacement of populations fleeing insecuritý.

Among the specific measures underway to deal with̀ the resurgence of attacks against civilians in the Gao region, the UN intends to follow up on actions launched several weeks ago. These were put in place "after extremist groups committed serious abuses in the region, in particular in the Ansongo circle".

More broadly, MINUSMA stressed its determination "to provide any further support the Malian authorities may require, including the deployment of additional assets in areas affected by the violence. "It is more necessary than ever to intensify efforts to ensure better protection of civilians and, to this end, to mobilise all available resources and ensure their judicious use," concluded Olivier Salgado, spokesperson for MINUSMA, in a statement.

UN chief shocked and outraged

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he was shocked and outraged by the deadly attacks in the Bandiagara region. He also expressed dismay at the attacks in the Gao region and at the significant loss of life and livelihoods in other parts of the country, including Ménaka, where tens of thousands of people have been displaced in recent weeks.

"The Secretary-General expresses his sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to the Malian people. He condemns these attacks in the strongest possible terms and calls on the Malian authorities to promptly investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice," his spokesperson said in a statement.

"The Secretary-General calls on the Malian authorities to redouble their efforts to bring peace and stability to Mali, and reiterates the readiness of the United Nations and its Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to support these efforts," he added.