The Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), al Qaeda’s group in West Africa, has claimed several recent attacks across southern, central, and northern Mali. At least one dozen people were killed and many others wounded in the assaults.
So far this year, Mali and surrounding countries have seen at least 69 al Qaeda-linked attacks according to data compiled by The Long War Journal.
Earlier today, JNIM’s media wing – Al Zallaqa Foundation – released a series of statements claiming responsibility for several recent attacks. It first claimed an ambush in the Ke Macina area of Segou on a convoy of Donzo [Bambara term for hunters] militiamen, which JNIM purports was “backed by the Malian army.” This is not the first time that JNIM has taken part in ethnic-based clashes.
Last month, the jihadist entity took credit for killing 10 Bambara militiamen during a clash with ethnic Fulani militiamen. JNIM said it intervened on behalf of the Fulani and killed the Bambara. [See Threat Matrix report, Al Qaeda entity involved in communal violence in central Mali.]
JNIM then took credit for an assault on gendarmerie post in central Mali last week. According to the jihadists, the outpost near the area of Tene in Segou was overran and was “completely under their control.” The statement ends with saying that JNIM’s forces later withdrew after taking “equipment and motorcycles” as spoils.
Next, it claimed an IED attack on peacekeepers from Chad in the Taghlit area of the Tessalit-Aguelhok axis of Kidal. The blast, which reportedly occurred on Sunday, allegedly left several Chadian troops wounded. The UN has not commented on this attack.
The UN did, however, release a statement on another attack claimed by JNIM. The UN reported that “two peacekeepers of the UN Integrated Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and one civilian were seriously injured on Tuesday” after hitting an IED near Tessalit. JNIM said that it targeted a UN convoy in the area yesterday before successfully targeting another convoy today. Neither JNIM nor the UN reported the nationality of the wounded personnel.
Lastly, JNIM claimed a coordinated assault on a Malian military base in the Gourma-Rharous area of the Timbuktu region. JNIM reported its soldiers overran Malian special forces and took control of the base before French troops arrived. The French military said that it sent a “detachment of mountain commandos” to help Malian forces drive the jihadists back. JNIM said it withdrew after French airstrikes began. Before it withdrew, however, it reportedly took several military vehicles, weapons, ammunition, and destroyed other equipment.
The same base was previously targeted in both 2015 and 2016. AQIM’s Sahara branch and Ansar Dine, two constituent groups of JNIM, claimed each attack respectively.
This is the second time this month that JNIM has clashed with French forces in Mali. On April 6, the French Ministry of Defense (MoD) released a statement reporting that one of its soldiers was killed in combat the day before. The soldier was killed after his vehicle hit an IED near the border with Burkina Faso. JNIM’s claim of responsibility largely matched the details given by the French MoD. [See Threat Matrix report, JNIM claims ambush on French troops in Mali.]