At least 100 civilians are reported to have died over the weekend when rebel militias attacked several villages in the Bandiagara region, close to Mopti.
According to a statement issued earlier this week by the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, several houses and shops were set on fire and the attacks “also resulted in the forced displacement of several hundred civilians”.
Dozens more were killed in other attacks by extremists in the northeast, in the Gao region.
Many regions affected
UN chief António Guterres said in a statement from his spokesman that he was “equally shocked” by the reported loss of life there, as well as by the “much loss of life and livelihood also in other regions of the countryincluding in Ménaka, where tens of thousands of people have been displaced in recent weeks.”
Mali and the entire central Sahel region have seen an increase in violence against civilians by armed extremists in recent months – a problem that has plagued the nation for years, since 2012, when Islamist rebels took control of the north and center , before government forces provided international support to put down the attempted coup.
Extremist violence has spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, destabilizing border regions, and in recent weeks, according to news reports, rebels have blocked the road between the northern city of Gao and Mopti, to the south.
The Secretary-General expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the recent massacres and to the people of Mali.
“He condemns these attacks in the strongest terms and calls on the Malian authorities to… investigate them quickly and bring the perpetrators to justicethe statement said.
The secretary general called on Mali’s military leadership to redouble their efforts to restore peace and stabilityacross the country, reiterating the readiness of the UN Stabilization Mission MINUSMA, to support their efforts.
In its statement on Tuesday, MINUSMA said it was once again in mourning with the nation but would waste no time setting up a “provisional mission” to help regional authorities deal with the aftermath of the violence, led by an integrated mission team dispatched from Mopti.
MINUSMA promises to respond
†Other concrete measures are under consideration to support the efforts of the Malian authorities to assist the population and strengthen their security”, said MINUSMA.
“More broadly, the mission will continue its efforts to help stabilize central Mali, which is one of its strategic priorities.”
MINUSMA said so specific measures would be taken to address the resurgence of violence against civilians in the Gao region.
“This will be a continuation of the action,” which began several weeks ago after extremist groups killed dozens in Asongo district, Gao region, allegedly in retaliation for the arrest of some rebel leaders.
In line with its human rights mandate, MINUSMA said it would investigate the exact circumstances of the recent attacks. †This will support the relevant Malian authorities in their efforts to identify and bring the perpetrators to justice of these heinous deeds.”