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Suspected jihadists kill dozens in restive Mali region

An attack by suspected jihadists on the village of Djiguibombo in central Mali has resulted in dozens of civilian deaths, according to local government officials in the region.

Officials told Reuters that around 40 people were killed in the raid, though other accounts suggest the death toll was half that number. Fighters reportedly ransacked homes and granaries and targeted civilians while they were celebrating a wedding.

Djiguibombo is in the Bandiagara region, which is among the most restive parts of Mali. The area is home to one of the most active jihadist groups in the country as well as local militias that oppose them.

Many villages in central Mali have made reconciliation arrangements or “survival pacts'” with jihadists – submitting to their rule in exchange for a cessation of hostilities among other things – though local militias have rejected them in parts of Bandiagara.

Mali is currently ruled by a military junta that seized power in 2020 as the jihadist insurgency worsened. It has won local support by vowing to expand state sovereignty lost to the militant groups and to former separatist groups based in the north.

Still, the junta has been criticised for booting out a UN peacekeeping mission that had a presence in central and northern Mali, and for committing an increasing number of abuses against civilians during counter-insurgency operations.

The junta has also cracked down on opposition groups, suspending the activities of political parties and associations while failing to honour a promised timeline for a democratic transition.

Armed groups – both jihadist and non-jihadist – have meanwhile been deploying siege tactics as a tool of war, targeting ever larger towns and regions, disrupting local economies, and creating major access problems for humanitarian groups.

For more context and background on the political and security situation, read our recent report:

A camp for displaced people in central Mali’s Bandiagara region. Residents arrived in December after jihadists made them leave their villages.

As army operations ramp up in Mali, rebel groups impose ‘suffocating’ blockades 

Prices are rising, shops are closing, and aid access is regularly blocked.

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