At least 100 civilians were reportedly killed over the weekend when rebels attacked several villages in the Bandiagara district, near Mopti.
According to statement released earlier this week by the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMAseveral houses and shops were burned down, and the attacks “also resulted in the forcible displacement of several hundred civilians”.
Dozens more were killed in other extremist attacks in the northeast, in the Gao area.
Many regions affected
UN chief António Guterres said in a statement released by his spokesman that he was “equally appalled” by reports of deaths there, as well as “high loss of life and livelihoods elsewhere in the country, andincluding in Menaka, where tens of thousands of people have been displaced in recent weeks.”
Mali and the entire central Sahel region have seen a surge in violence against civilians by armed extremists in recent months, an issue that has plagued the country for years since 2012, when Islamist rebels took control of the north and center before government forces backed by international support crushed the coup attempt.
Extremist violence has spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, destabilizing border areas, and in recent weeks, according to news reports, rebels have blocked the road between the northern city of Gao and Mopti to the south.
The Secretary-General expressed his deep condolences to the families of the victims of the recent massacres, as well as to the people of Mali.
“He condemns these attacks in the strongest possible terms and calls on the Malian authorities to promptly investigate them and bring those responsible to justice“, the message says.
The Secretary General urged Mali’s military leadership to ” redouble their efforts to restore peace and stabilitythroughout the country and confirms the readiness of the UN Stabilization Mission MINUSMA to support their efforts.
In a statement on Tuesday, MINUSMA said it was once again joining in the nation’s mourning, but would not waste time and would appoint a “preliminary mission” to assist regional authorities in dealing with the aftermath of the violence, led by a joint team from the Mission sent from Mopti.
MINUSMA vows to respond
“Other specific measures are envisaged to support the efforts of the Malian authorities to provide assistance to the population and strengthen their security.MINUSMA said.
“More broadly, the Mission will continue its efforts to stabilize central Mali, which is one of its strategic priorities.”
MINUSMA stated that specific measures will be taken to combat the surge in violence against civilians in the Gao area.
“This will be a continuation of the action” that began weeks ago after extremist groups killed dozens of people in the Asongo district in the Gao region, reportedly in retaliation for the arrest of some rebel leaders.
In accordance with its human rights mandate, MINUSMA stated that it was investigating the exact circumstances of the recent attacks. “This will support the relevant Malian authorities in their efforts to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators. these heinous deeds.