- Timbuktu mortar attack kills two.
- Timbuktu under jihadist siege.
- Mali faces ongoing insecurity.
A mortar attack in the historic city of Timbuktu in northern Mali has resulted in two fatalities and left five others wounded, according to the military. The army has attributed the shelling to “terrorists.”
Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has faced a siege by jihadists in recent weeks, resulting in severe food shortages.
In 2012, the city was captured by Islamist and Tuareg fighters, but they were later driven out by French forces. Despite their expulsion, the jihadists continued to launch attacks from their bases in the Sahara Desert.
The insurgency was a major factor in the military coup in Mali in 2020, where the civilian government was accused of failing to provide security. The military vowed to put an end to militant attacks, but recent months have seen an increase in such incidents.
In one of the deadliest attacks, 49 people lost their lives when a river boat was ambushed in the northeast of the country two weeks ago.
The UN peacekeeping force, present in Mali since 2013, is withdrawing from the country at the request of the military government. Last year, France withdrew its troops, and Russian Wagner group mercenaries were brought in by the authorities.
The recent attack on Timbuktu, known for its Islamic heritage and ancient manuscripts, caused fear among the residents. On the same day, the army stopped a militant raid on Léré town, 240km southwest of Timbuktu, killing five.
Last Sunday, five soldiers were killed when ethnic Tuareg rebels raided two military camps. Last month, Tuareg rebels claimed to have taken two UN facilities. They are opposed to the army taking control of these bases and accuse the junta of breaking the 2015 Algiers peace agreement that ended their previous rebellion.
The Islamist insurgents have expanded their operations beyond northern Mali into Niger and Burkina Faso. The insecurity has prompted military takeovers in all three countries, but the jihadist threat persists.