In a bid to curb the recent conflicts the Malian government has declared a 10-day state of emergency as of Thursday after Tuesday’s terrorist attack in the center of the country that has left 17 soldiers dead and 35 wounded.
The government said the state of emergency would last “for a duration of 10 days” following the attack at an army base in Nampala. It also said a period of national mourning would begin on Thursday “in homage to the victims of the terrorist attack”.
In the hours after Tuesday’s assaults two groups — one jihadist, the other ethnic — both claimed to have carried out the raid on the military camp. Several security sources in the region said that they doubted the veracity of the claim of responsibility from the National Alliance for the Protection of Peul Identity and Restoration of Justice (ANSIPRJ).
The ethnic group was only founded last month following inter-communal clashes in the area and lacked the means to mount an attack.
Malian jihadist organization Ansar Dine also took credit for the attack, which the Malian government described as a “coordinated terrorist attack”. The government said that the military was in control in Nampala and that the attackers would be hunted down and punished.
The attack was the latest in a series of assaults on security forces in Mali, and was condemned by the United Nations and European Union. A previous state of emergency in place since April had only been lifted the week before.
Northern Mali has seen repeated violence since it fell under the control of Tuareg-led rebels who allied with jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012.
But attacks are now becoming more frequent in the country’s center, close to its borders with Burkina Faso and Niger, both from criminal and jihadist elements.
Although, Islamists were largely ousted by an ongoing French-led military operation launched in January 2013, sporadic attacks from desert hideouts are common.
A peace deal under threat, an Al Jazeera report:
As of Friday, Gatia militia fighters and the Tuareg dominated Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) are in a clash in the northern town of Kidal, raising fears of a fraying peace agreement.
Up to 20 people have been killed and at least 40 others wounded, according to health workers, in two days of fighting in northern Mali threatening a shaky year-old peace deal.
The Tuareg-dominated Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) and rival Gatia militia fighters, who had peacefully shared control of the town of Kidal since February, clashed for a second day on Friday, the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said in a statement.
Both groups signed a UN-backed deal a year ago with the government in Bamako, the capital in southern Mali, that was intended to ease tensions and let the army focus on defeating other armed groups in the desert north.
The gunfire had largely subsided by mid-afternoon on Friday, as the CMA claimed to have driven Gatia fighters from Kidal.
“We control the town in its entirety along with the surrounding areas. Calm has returned,” said CMA spokesman Almou Ag Mohamed.
Two officers in the pro-government militia confirmed that Gatia had withdrawn from the town.
“We decided to draw back from Kidal, but we are in the process of reorganizing,” one of the officers said, asking that his name not be used for his protection.
The UN called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and said that it was working with leaders of both groups to mediate the conflict and resume the peace process.