The death of Hasan al Ansari and five other senior leaders of JNIM was used as justification for JNIM’s terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso on Friday.
Earlier this month, four al Qaeda groups in West Africa merged to form the “Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims.” Its constituent organizations launched more than 250 attacks across the region in 2016, a significant increase in the jihadists’ operational tempo from the previous year.
The suicide bombing, which left at least 50 people dead, is one of the largest terrorist attacks in Mali’s history.
With at least 257 al Qaeda-linked attacks in Mali and its neighboring countries, this represents a significant uptick in the al Qaeda-led insurgency in northern Mali in recent years.
The coordinated assault blamed on jihadists has left nearly a dozen Burkinabe soldiers dead.
The two attacks, including a suicide bombing, targeted foreign bases at airports in northern Mali. Al Qaeda has launched more than 200 attacks in Mali and the neighboring countries in the past year.
AQIM says the attack is meant to show that it can target Algeria in “whatever area we want, and to let you know that your fortifications that you have made will not prevent the strikes of the mujahideen from reaching you.”