Mali: fighting jihadists since 2012
Jihadist fighters

Mali, where mutineering soldiers say they have detained President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and his prime minister, lost the north of its territory in 2012 to jihadists.

The jihadists were then partly driven out in a French-led military operation later reinforced by other interventions.

Despite a peace deal in 2015, violence persists, spreading southwards and into neighbouring countries in the Sahel region.

Here is a recap.

– Jihadists occupy north –

In 2012 rebels from the Tuareg and other groups launch an offensive to seize towns in the north. Some had just returned from the uprising in Libya where they fought for Moamer Kadhafi, the leader killed in 2011.

The offensive is marked by a massacre at Aguelhok, where dozens of soldiers are killed.

In March soldiers overthrow president Amadou Toumani Toure saying his regime failed to give the armed forces the means to defeat the rebellion.

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Tuareg and rebels allied to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) move on to capture the capitals of the three northern regions: Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu.

The Tuaregs are soon ousted by the Islamists, who dominate the north and carry out abuses in the name of Sharia law, including amputations and stonings.

They destroy mausoleums in the fabled desert city of Timbuktu.

– Foreign interventions –

In January 2013 former colonial power France launches a military operation to drive back the Islamists.

The jihadists flee the northern cities days later; French-led troops recapture Gao and Timbuktu, and then retake Kidal airport.

In February the European Union sends 600 soldiers to train the Mali army. In July a 15,000-strong UN peacekeeping force, MINUSMA, is deployed.

In May 2014 Tuareg and Arab militants retake control of Kidal and other northern towns.

– Series of attacks –

From 2015, jihadist attacks against Malian and international forces multiply.

In November an attack on the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in the capital Bamako leaves 20 dead, including 14 foreigners.

A state of emergency has been in place ever since.

– Jihadist alliance –

In March 2017 the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) is officially launched.

Comprising several jihadist groups linked to AQIM, the GSIM alliance is led by a Tuareg Malian, Iyad Ag Ghaly.

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Since its launch the GSIM has claimed responsibility for the biggest attacks in the Sahel.

– AQIM leader killed –

In February 2020, Keita recognises for the first time the existence of contacts with jihadists.

At the start of June French forces kill the AQIM leader, Algerian Abdelmalek Droukdel, in the northwest Mali town of Tessalit.

– ‘Movement of June 5’ –

From early June, demonstrations take place in Bamako involving tens of thousands of people, organised by a newly-formed coalition of opposition groups, which has continued to call for Keita’s resignation accusing him and his entourage of corruption and cronyism.


Vanguard News Nigeria.


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