Relatives of slain Malian soldiers demand support for the military

Some protesters at Sevare called for the chief of staff to resign
28 February 2019, Mali, Koulikoro: Debris lies scattered on the grounds of the EU training camp. Last Sunday (24.02.2019), suspected Islamist extremists attacked the field camp in Koulikoro with two vehicles loaded with explosives. One of the vehicles exploded and slightly injured three Malian guards. Of the 150 or so Bundeswehr soldiers stationed there, none were harmed. Photo: Michael Fischer/dpa

Hundreds of wives and children of Mali soldiers slain in a spate of jihadist attacks rallied in two central towns Friday, calling for more support for the military.

The towns of Segou, a regional capital, and Sevare saw the victims’ relatives gather to urge more government backing,  participants told AFP.

Soldier’s families had already rallied last week in the central city of Dioura, scene of an attack which killed 26 people, according to a latest official army toll.

Bamako has decreed three days of official mourning for those deaths from Friday for the “cowardly” killings.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has demanded a tough security line but that has failed to pacify the victims’ families.

The rally at Segou saw a group of women block traffic by sitting down in the middle of the road while children who had lost fathers to attacks set tyres ablaze, witnesses said.

“We’ve been told helicopters have been bought for the army — where are they? Why don’t they use them?” demanded one woman, Fatoumata, who said she had lost her husband in the Dioura attack.

“Hundreds of women and children are here to demonstrate at Segou to denounce a lack of resources for the army,” said Oumar Toure, a teacher.

“We don’t want our husbands to keep dying like this,” other women chanted at a rally at Sevare, near Mopti, another central capital in the country’s centre.

Some protesters at Sevare called for the chief of staff to resign, local media quoted them as saying.

A group of associations meanwhile drew around 1,000 people to a meeting in the capital Bamako to urge solutions to a crisis in education after repeated strikes by public sector teachers demanding better conditions.

“There’s been no school for months — the government and teachers must urgently find common ground, organiser Mohamed Kimbiri said, adding that the parlous security situation in Mali was a further major worry.

In further proof of that , at least four civilians were killed and two injured Friday when armed assailants attacked the central town of Bandiagara and carried off food and livestock, army sources quoted locals as saying.

Hama Dengu, a resident of nearby Diombolo, said the attack was the work of an ethnic Fulani group earlier seen riding around the area. 

UN sources blame the group for some 500 deaths this year.

A military source told AFP that troops had deployed to the area after the attack and came across a boobytrapped motorcycle, which exploded, killing one local man for a fifth fatality on the day.


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