On Tuesday, the first of the three days of national mourning imposed by the government after assaults over the weekend that left dozens dead in the country’s heart, national flags of Mali were flown at half-mast in Bamako.
According to the authorities, rebels from the Katiba organisation attacked villages in the Bankass region on Saturday and Sunday, killing 130 civilians.
People who had moved away from the violent area claimed there was no rule of law there in the capital’s streets.
“We live without law. It’s every man for himself, it is the law of the strongest. The population sees what is happening, but they can’t do anything about it,” said Amadou Kassambala who left his hometown Kourientze, (in Mopti) to work as street seller in Bamako.
The attacks demonstrate how violence associated with insurgency is moving from northern Mali to locations farther south, including Bankass.
The route connecting Mopti and the northern city of Gao has been blocked for several weeks by Islamist rebels in central Mali.
The regions attacked over the past weekend include those that signed local peace accords with several armed groups deemed terrorists, such Macina Katiba, said security analyst Baba Dakono.
According to Dakono, the director of the Citizen’s Observatory on Governance and Security, even though those accords were not universally embraced, they have helped to maintain some measure of peace in the area.
“The resurgence of tension is perhaps linked to the expiration today of these local agreements, but also can be linked to the intensification of military operations by the defense forces that may be putting an end to the dialogue process that had been initiated by the Malian authorities since 2019,” he said.
In attacks in central and northern Mali since the year’s beginning, several hundred civilians have perished.
According to a study by the human rights division of the U.N. mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, both Islamic rebels and the Malian army are to responsible for the attacks.
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