BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Coordinated attacks by Islamic extremists have killed 14 Malian soldiers and wounded nearly a dozen, the army said.
Multiple improvised explosive devices detonated between Dia and Diafarabe villages as well as between Koumara and Macina towns in central Mali, said Col. Souleymane Dembele, the director of public relations for the army, in a statement Wednesday.
During the same attacks, which occurred earlier this week, Mali’s forces killed more than 30 “terrorists,” Dembele said.
The West African nation has been riddled with violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group for a decade. Thousands of people have been killed.
Mali’s ruling junta, which seized power in two coups starting in 2020, has been struggling to beat back the jihadis, especially since French troops pulled out of the country in August amid frayed relations with the junta. France has been in the region since 2013 when it sent in troops to Mali to push back extremists encroaching on the capital, Bamako, but the jihadis have since regrouped.
Since December 2021, the junta has been working with Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group, but the Russians have also been unable to stem the violence. In August, 42 soldiers were killed when their military barracks was attacked.
“Extremists groups continue to wreak havoc in the Sahelian nation despite the junta’s employment of mercenaries to stem the rise of violence. It’s clearly not working,” said Laith Alkhouri, CEO of Intelonyx Intelligence Advisory, which provides intelligence analysis.
“The high casualty count underscores an untiring effort of extremist groups to weaken any remaining resolve of Malian soldiers. If more of these attacks take place, the junta will need to resort to additional security assistance,” he said.