Islamist militants attacked an army base in Mali on Wednesday, killing 17 soldiers and wounding 35 others. According to government sources, militants fired on troop positions and burned buildings in an attack that is being termed as one of the biggest in past few months on the army in Mali. “It is also an indicator of the growing threat from Islamist forces,” said the defence minister Tièman Hubert Coulibaly as he addressed the country on state television. He added, “We lost 17 men and unfortunately 35 were also wounded and these have all been transported for medical care in the region of Segou.”
Assuring the people that their army is still in control of town and is hunting for militants, he said, “We will make sure that this coordinated terrorist attack is met with an appropriate response.”
According to a report by Reuters, Army spokesman Souleymane Maiga confirmed that the attackers briefly took control of the base in Nampala, close to Mauritanian border forcing the troops to regroup at nearby Diabaly.
The reports have also brought a shocking fact that the entire operation was carried out by three groups- Al Qaeda, and the Islamic Maghreb and they both attacked from the north. The second being the Macina Liberation Front linked to Ansar Dine was posted as a lookout force to ambush the military reinforcements. The presence of an ethnic Peul group is also being speculated as force that attacked from the southeast.
Ansar Dine, also claimed responsibility for the attack and they have said in an official statement that their Macina Battalion staged the raid. Mali has been facing armed conflict between local groups since ages and has witnessed a surge in violence since a 2015 peace agreement, which has failed abysmally to curtail violence between ethnic groups even after the presence of 11,000 UN peacekeepers.
The country had faced a real blow to its attempts on achieving peace when militants killed 20 people last November in a high-profile attack on a hotel in the capital.