Some 15 militants have been killed in an anti-militant operation by Mali’s army in the northern regions of the West African country.
The army said in a statement on Saturday that its forces had managed to neutralize terrorists, recover their weapons and destroy their motorbikes during the operation a day earlier in Tina forest in Mopti region.
The statement added that one soldier died and two others were injured in clashes with militants.
The clashes are the latest to come from a resurgence of violence in Mali’s restive north in recent weeks. Militants attacked a UN base in the historic city of Timbuktu last Sunday. One U.N. peacekeeper was killed and seven others were wounded in the attack, which involved rocket fire and car bombs.
The UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has 12,000 peacekeepers in the country. The mission has estimated that at least 180 civilians have been killed in Mali this year in at least 85 major violent incidents and armed confrontations.
MINUSMA warned recently that it was deeply concerned with an increase in “serious violations and human rights abuses against civilians, including cases of summary execution” in the center of the country.
The warning shows how militants have managed to infiltrate the relatively calmer regions of Mali where local grievances are high. Many fear the central regions, already awash with guns, can be turned into a new scene of violence some three years after the government managed to reach a peace agreement with some armed groups.
In 2012, unrest in Mali drew attentions in France, the former colonizer which still maintains a significant military presence in the country, when Tuareg separatists staged an uprising against the government.
The French military intervened under the pretext that the Tuareg movement had been exploited by terrorists of al-Qaeda. However, many parts of Mali still remain lawless while militants have managed to win the trust of locals in many villages by providing them with basic services and protection from bandits.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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