In the West African nation of Mali, a car bombing occurred killing at least 2 civilians and injuring over 20 others including a number of French soldiers in Gao, a city located in the northern part of the country. Al-Jazeera reported that the French Army spokesman, Patrik Steiger, indicated that the attack targeted both Mali and French troops while they were operating under a joint patrol. A witness reported that the attack was most likely intentional because of the presence of an “armored vehicle” which blocked the way, while the car exploded, Africa News reports. While no official entity has claimed the attack, the car bombing is suspected to be orchestrated by an extremist organization with links to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The increased militarization occurring in desert regions like the Sahel, is a horrifying consequence of the lack of state power in Mali specifically, and its neighboring countries to a lesser extent. The recent “security vacuum” referenced by Al-Jazeera, is presumed to be the main contributor to the rise in non-state armed groups. Areas like the Sahel have suffered the most as millions are leaving in constant danger. The car bombing last Sunday was preceded by multiple attacks, most recently, Friday and Saturday, June 29th and 30th, respectively. Friday’s attack is reported to have killed 2 soldiers and one civilian in the Malian town of Savare. The soldiers were part of the G5 forces, an initiative that includes West African countries from five nations: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. The force is supposed to work with French troops and UN peacekeepers to combat anti-terror organizations. As for the Saturday, the casualty of the attack were four soldiers in the central part of Mali, according to Africa News.
Another unfortunate incident also coincided with the car bombing on Sunday in a different region of Mali, as a vehicle belonging to a former rebel group“ hit a landmine in Talataye village in the Gao region”, according to the Washington Post. The group, named Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA), is currently associated with Malian and French troops, casualties are estimated to be four people and many other injured, Al-Jazeera reports.
The issue of suicide attacks has become of concern to both domestic and regional actors. Mali will hold elections at the end of July and it’s clear that the rising intensity of the attack is to spark chaos. However, the violence occurring in Mali might also be spilling over to nearby countries. Member countries of G5 like Mauritania have expressed deep concerns regarding the regional instability. The President of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, has said that “a security fallout” might have been the reason behind Friday’s attack, condemning the lack of international involvement in the increasingly volatile area, according to the former news source. The lack of international funding is a key factor to understand the unstable state of the G5. The presence of G5 is essential to maintain reasonable stability, especially in areas that remain ungoverned in Mali, according to the Washington Post. Although both the US and France have provided considerable funds to G5, it seems like they are still in need of further support in terms of financial and training purposes. It is the duty of the international community to become more involved in ensuring the stability of Mali and its people. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has spoken about the attack condemning the perpetrators and offering condolences to the families of the victims and the Malian government. He also discussed the “determination of the United Nations to continue to support the tireless efforts of the Malian authorities and people toward the stabilization of their country.” More importantly and along with the UN statement, the international community should not gloss over any lack of commitment by the contributing countries as well, ensuring that they are held accountable, and coordinating their efforts in a unifying and clear manner.
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