Extremist Attack Kills Malian Civilians

Upwards of 130 civilians were killed in Mali over the weekend from June 18 through 19. Reports on social media described huts and houses burning and Malians being abducted, prompting a response from the government confirming the attacks. As African News reports, the armed soldiers had verbally accused the victims of not being Muslim and then proceeded to systematically shoot those whom they had abducted.

The United Nations Secretary General condemned the attacks and “calls on the Malian authorities to redouble their efforts to restore peace and stability to Mali, and reiterates the readiness of the United Nations and its Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to support these efforts.”

Although no group has taken direct responsibility for the attacks, the group that has been widely accused of having perpetrated these killings is the Macina Katiba of Amadou Kouffa, also known as the Macina Liberation Front (M.L.F.). According to the European Council on Foreign Relations, the M.L.F. is associated with Al-Qaeda and has been the primary jihadist armed group in the Mopti and Niger Delta regions, often fighting against personnel deployed by the MINUSMA.

The U.N. established the MINUSMA in April 2013 after France led a coup d’etat in Mali and extremist groups rose from the subsequent political chaos. Civilians in Mali’s central Mopti region have been these extremist groups’ victims since 2012, when these groups began taking over territory in northern Mali. The MINUSMA works to strengthen security in order to stabilize the region and investigate these attacks.

While the MINUSMA has often been targeted as victims of extremist attacks, their work to assist those affected by the violence has continued. MINUSMA released a press report saying that it has “facilitated a preliminary mission for the regional authorities to the areas affected by the violence,” which includes not only Central Mali but the whole country.

Although Malian authorities have now said that the jihadists have been neutralized, the threat from extremist groups including but not limited to M.L.F. remains. One year ago, the United Nations published a report directed at the U.N. Security Council regarding Mali’s “major political, security, human rights and humanitarian obstacles.” The press release called for a “comprehensive approach to improve security conditions, alongside efforts to protect civilians and restore both State authority and basic social services.” While these requests were put out over a year ago, the attacks have proliferated, and the Malian people remain facing an equal, if not intensified, threat.

This is an urgent testimony to the necessity for assistance to the people of Mali as well as the obligation on a global scale to pay attention to the threats that they face. Persistent support from international organizations such as the United Nations is essential in combatting extremist groups’ constant threat to the Malian people.

Britt Gronmeyer