At least 16 people were killed in two midweek attacks in northeastern Mali by suspected jihadists on encampments of nomadic tribesmen, local sources told AFP on Sunday.
“The killings took place in the evening between Wednesday and Thursday with the same modus operandi: assailants on motorbikes who came into the camp, shot at people indiscriminately from close range, then take away their livestock,” said a source close to the authorities in Menaka, the region near the Niger border where the attacks happened.
A first attack targeted a nomadic camp about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the region’s capital, also called Menaka. Twelve people were killed
In the other attacked “armed men” targeted another camp at Inekar Tadriante, killing five, the source added.
Leaders of the Tuareg nomadic community posted on social networks in recent days of “massacres of civilians” by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS), affiliated to the Islamic State group, which operated in the border regions between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
They put the overall death toll from the two attacks at 16.
The region has become increasingly violent and unstable since Tuareg separatist rebels rose up against the government in 2012.
Jihadist fighters took advantage of their rebellion to launch their own offensive, threatening the capital Bamako in the south until a French-led force pushed them back in 2013.
The Tuareg separatists and the government agreed to a peace accord in 2015, but it has yet to be applied.
So now Mali’s weak, national government faces both separatist and jihadist insurgencies in the north of the country — a largely desert region that is all but devoid of state infrastructure.
A recent report by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the so-called three-border region with Niger and Burkina Faso had seen a “significant deterioration” in security.