The Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), al Qaeda’s branch in West Africa, released several photos earlier today from last week’s deadly assault on a Malian base near Timbuktu. The assault reportedly left four Malian soldiers dead and many more wounded.
Last week, 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 it sent a “detachment of mountain commandos” to help Malian forces drive the jihadists back. JNIM said the group withdrew after French airstrikes began. Before it withdrew, however, JNIM reportedly took several military vehicles, weapons, ammunition, and destroyed other equipment. The photos released today confirm this report.
The photos detailed dozens of small arms, mainly variants of the Kalashnikov assault rifle and PK machine guns. Several rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) are shown, as are a handful of mortars and grenades. Large amounts of ammunition were also positioned before a captured military vehicle, which appears to be equipped with a KPV heavy machine gun. Other KPVs also appear to be alongside the other captured weapons.
The same base in Timbuktu was previously targeted in both 2015 and 2016. AQIM’s Sahara branch and Ansar Dine, two constituent groups of JNIM, claimed those attacks.
According to data compiled by FDD’s The Long War Journal, there have been at least 80 al Qaeda-linked attacks in Mali and neighboring countries so far this year. This number exemplifies the larger trend of a renewed insurgency since last year, when attacks saw a 150 percent increase from 2015.
Photos released by JNIM: