Home WORLD AFRICA Attack on Tessit, Mali: new toll of 42 soldiers killed

Attack on Tessit, Mali: new toll of 42 soldiers killed

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The army has reacted vigorously to a complex and coordinated attack in Tessit during which she counted 42 dead and 22 injured in its ranks, also reporting the abandonment of several pieces of equipment, including vehicles, after several hours of combat, according to this new report published by the government in a press release sent to AFP.

The previous toll reported 17 soldiers and four civilians killed.

The government mentioned an attack on Sundayh”,”text”:”around 3 p.m.”}}”>around 3 p.m.conducted presumably [par] Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS) and characterized by the use of drones, explosives, vehicle bombs and artillery firetaking up information already announced Monday by the army.

The record by the army of clandestine aircraft overflight operations unequivocally indicates that the terrorists benefited from major support, including outside expertiseadds the government press release.

The presidency announced a three-day national mourning from Thursday, in tribute to the civilian and military victims during the terrorist attack perpetrated in Tessitin a separate press release.

A Malian soldier.

A Malian army soldier on patrol on the road between Mopti and Djenne in central Mali.

Photo: Getty Images / MICHELE CATTANI

This is the heaviest official toll for the Malian army since the series of attacks at the end of 2019-early 2020 by the Islamic State group of military camps in this same region of the three borders.

This Sunday attack comes as Mali, which pushed the old French ally out and ardently relaunched cooperation with Moscow, has been facing a resurgence of attacks from the GSIM nebula for several weeks.

Among the four civilians killed, some of them were local elected officials, had told theAFP relatives of the victims on condition of anonymity.

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The statement also claimed that seven enemies had died in the attack, assailants presumably from the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara [EIGS] and benefiting from drone and artillery support with the use of explosives and vehicle bombs.

three borders

The Tessit area, located on the Malian side of the so-called three bordersin a huge rural region not controlled by the state, is frequently the scene of clashes and attacks.

Armed groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda, gathered under the leadership of the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM, JNIM in Arabic), have been fighting the group there since 2020. EIGSaffiliated with the EI organization.

The jihadists seek to take control of this strategic and gold-bearing area.

The Malian army, installed in a military camp next to the town of Tessit, has also often been taken to task in this region. In March 2021, thirty-three Tessit relief soldiers were killed in an ambush claimed by theEIGS.

A Blue Helmets soldier deployed in Mali.

Attacks against peacekeepers are frequent in Mali.

Photo: The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld

In this area, sometimes called the Malian Gourmaalso operate peacekeepers of the mission of theUN in Mali.

As for civilians, as elsewhere in Mali, they are caught in the crossfire of these actors in the conflict, and accused of being allies with one when they are not with the other. In February, about forty of them had been killed by theEIGS in Tessit, accused of complicity with Al-Qaeda.

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The inhabitants of the area, regularly cut off from the telephone network for several years and all the more landlocked in the rainy season, have fled by the thousands, in particular to the large neighboring town of Gao, some 150 km to the north.

This area of three borders had been the scene at the end of 2019-beginning of 2020 of the series of deadliest attacks that the three countries concerned had known since the outbreak of the conflict in 2012, in northern Mali.

More than a dozen isolated camps in which the Sahelian soldiers were entrenched had been the targets of theEIGS according to a proven modus operandi: the lightning attack of fighters on motorcycles. Hundreds of soldiers had been killed.

These setbacks had pushed the Malian army as well as the Nigerien and Burkinabe soldiers to withdraw and regroup in stronger places.

A military burst was announced in January 2020 during a Franco-Sahelian summit in Pau (southwest of France). L’EIGS had been appointed Enemy # 1 and many operations, French and Sahelian, had been carried out on the three borders.

Many leaders of the jihadist group were killed in 2020 and 2021, first and foremost its founder Abu Walid Al-Sahraoui, in August 2021. But, say several residents and experts, the group has never stopped recruiting and operate.

At the end of July, at least 11 coordinated and GSIM-branded attacks hit Malian territory. One of them took place in Kati, at the gates of Bamako and at the heart of the Malian military apparatus.

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