JNIM apologizes for killing civilians in central Mali

Al Qaeda’s Group of Support for Islam and Muslims (JNIM) has issued a formal apology for killing over a dozen civilians last week after a bus ran over a landmine.

“It is with great sadness and sorrow that we received the news of the killing of a group of our brothers and our sons in a party that was traveling between Douentza and Boni in central Mali,” JNIM begins.

The statement continues by saying that the landmine “was planted by the mujahideen for patrolling French vehicles.” The jihadist group then offers their “condolences and sympathies” to the families of those killed.

The al Qaeda group then tries to appeal to the locals by saying “we would like to affirm to the Ummah [Islamic community] and to the families of those killed that we put ourselves under Shari’a’s governance, thus we are prepared to defend the implications of Shari’a on this unintended error.”

On Sept. 3, at least 14 people were killed and another 24 were wounded after a passenger bus ran over a landmine in Mali’s central Mopti region. The Mopti region has been at the forefront of increased jihadist and communal violence over the last few years.

This is also not the first time a civilian bus has been targeted by jihadist forces in central Mali. Last year, at least 26 people were killed when their bus was attacked near Boni. JNIM did not offer an expression of regret for that massacre.

JNIM’s apology also comes as the group claimed a series of attacks across Mali and Burkina Faso. This includes assassinations of Tuareg fighters in Kidal, attacks on UN forces near Ansongo, ambushes on G5 Sahel forces in central Mali, and a raid on a Burkinabe military base in Tongomayel.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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