Less than a week after the release of Malian and Western hostages in exchange for more than 200 jihadist fighters or suspected ones, hostilities resumed in Mali.
On the one hand, GSIM claimed responsibility for the triple attack that took place on Tuesday in the Mopti region, on the other hand, the French forces carried out several arrests during Operation Barkhane.
Some hoped that this exchange and the dialogue that preceded it would extend to a lull or a period of ceasefire, but it is not. Attack on the Malian armyyesterday was claimed on Wednesday by GSIM, the support group for Islam and Muslims, via a propaganda agency that is one of the usual channels for claimingal Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqmi).
However, it is precisely GSIM, which is monitored by AQIM, that negotiated the liberation of his men in return for the recently released hostages. At present, there is nothing to say that there were fighters among the attackers who were in Malian prisons ten days ago. The claim also does not say whether some of them have already resumed service during these attacks, but the message sent is clear: the respite is over.
Eleven Malian soldiers were killed: nine in the attack targeting the Sokoura camp in the circle of Bankass, then two in ambush, which were extended to the troops sent as reinforcements at the Parou bridge. The Malian army, for its part, specifies that it shot down 13 terrorists and destroyed two vehicles during its response.
A bus was then targeted on the same road between Bandiagara and Bankass, and twelve civilians were killed. Minusma, The UN mission in the country, evacuated 14 wounded, civilians and soldiers, according to the latest report from the Malian army to RFI on Wednesday.
Several arrests made by Operation Barkhane
And the message sent by the French force to Operation Barkhane is the same. It was not requested by the Malian army in Bankass, but on the other hand, in recent days it has led to a number of arrests in northern Mali.
In Ménaka first at night Monday to Tuesday. The operation took place at the father of one of the prisoners, who was released at Aqmi’s request in exchange for the four hostages. This person – the father – is also a regional leader of the CMA, the former rebels who have signed the peace agreement. About ten people were arrested in his home and weapons, money and vehicles were taken away by the French force.
All the arrested men were finally released, except one, following the intervention of the CMA, who was officially outraged by these arrests led by Barkhane.
The French force also called on a CMA official in Ber, near Timbuktu, on Tuesday. He was quickly released because it was a misunderstanding, according to a local movement official.
These arrests have “nothing to do” with the recent release of more than 200 suspected jihadists, assures a spokesman for Barkhane, who declined to comment further on the ongoing operations. But here again, this activity on the spot shows at least that the French army is not relieving the pressure in its fight against the terrorist groups present in Mali. Against AQIM, but also against their competitors from EIGS, the Islamic State group in the Greater Sahara, the French side said.