Mali twin attacks blamed on militants 0

Twin attacks blamed on militants during weekend municipal elections in Mali have claimed the lives of at least five soldiers and one civilian, security sources say. In the first incident, security sources said on Monday that five Malian troops were killed after being ambushed while transporting ballot boxes in the restive north. “After the voting on Sunday, an army convoy taking the ballot boxes for counting was attacked in the north by jihadists. Five Malian soldiers were killed,” AFP quoted a source as saying

Separately, a group of militants nabbed several vehicles and killed a civilian in the town of Dilli in southwestern Mali overnight Sunday to Monday. “They arrived early Monday in Dilli. They attacked a council building. The jihadists then took off with two ambulances and a vehicle, after which they killed a civilian and made off for the Mauritanian border,” a local official said. This comes as Malians have voted in long-overdue local elections, which were tainted by a spate of violent attacks and opposition boycotts.

On Sunday, people in Mali cast their ballots in the first elections since 2013 to elect 12,000 municipal councilors across the troubled West African country. The elections, held with a two-year delay, were boycotted by a number of opposition parties and some armed groups, including the Tuareg rebel group, formerly known as the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA).

Malians gather outside a polling station in Gao during municipal elections on November 20, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Reports by residents and officials said that voting was cancelled in some districts of the northern Mali region of Timbuktu after ballot boxes were burned by unidentified armed men. In 2012, Tuareg rebel groups seized control of northern Mali, which they call Azawad. However, al-Qaeda-linked militants took control shortly afterward. Then, the French military intervened in Mali, its former colony.

Since the al-Qaeda’s move, the impoverished West African country has been in turmoil. The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali was deployed in July 2013 to bring calm.  A year later, Tuareg rebels agreed to a ceasefire deal with the government.