According to military and security officials, 15 troops and six civilians were killed in strikes on Sunday in Mali and Burkina Faso, two neighboring West African countries grappling with deadly jihadist insurgencies.
The military stated in a statement that suicide bombers drove automobiles laden with explosives into three military installations in central Mali before morning. At the Sevare camp, six people were killed, 15 were injured, and five more were injured in two other sites.
Simultaneous attacks on military detachments in Gaskinde and Pobe-Mengao in northern Burkina Faso in the early hours killed nine troops and six civilians, including two members of an armed self-defense organization, according to the military. Approximately 30 people were injured in the two attacks.
In the previous two years, military juntas have seized power in Mali and Burkina Faso, vowing to provide more security than their democratically elected predecessors.
Violent attacks on civilians and the troops, meanwhile, continue. In their efforts to weed out Islamist fighters from rural desert areas, both countries’ security services have been accused of abusing civilians.
Mali’s troubles began in 2012, when Islamists grabbed control of the north. Former colonial power France repelled them, but they quickly regrouped and launched attacks closer to Bamako, the capital of Mali.
Despite international efforts spearheaded by France to thwart them, groups affiliated to al Qaeda and Islamic State proliferated and wreaked havoc in Burkina Faso and Niger within years. Thousands have died, and millions have been forced to flee their homes.
The junta that deposed Mali’s government in a military coup in 2020 sought the assistance of private fighters from Russia’s Wagner Group, which has been accused of human rights violations in other countries and has been sanctioned by the European Union.
Mali and Russia have previously stated that they are not mercenaries, but rather trainers assisting local troops with Russian-supplied weaponry.
Russian government officials deny any ties to the Wagner Group.