Mali: Northern groups claim offensive against army in key town

Armed groups from the north of Mali claimed an offensive against the army in Bourem. It is a key city that they said they had taken at least temporary control of. But the situation remains confused. No comments were obtained from the Malian authorities on this operation which would confirm fears of a resumption of hostilities between these armed groups and the central State, and of the end of the peace agreement signed in 2015.

Rare elements coming from this remote area reflect a troubled situation on the ground. Testimonies indicate an intervention by the Malian air force and a resumption of control by the army. For information, Bourem is a junction near the Niger River and on the road between Timbuktu and Gao and towards Kidal, a Tuareg stronghold, further north.

“Intense fighting”

It’s the Permanent strategic framework (CSP), an alliance of armed groups which had signed a peace agreement with the Malian state in 2015, which indicated having carried out this operation which “resulted in the control of the camp and the various advanced posts” of the forces Malian armies and their ally the Russian paramilitary group Wagner. There was “intense fighting,” said spokesman Mohamed El Maouloud Ramadane. The CSP said it was acting in “self-defense in the face of provocations by terrorists from the Malian army accompanied by the Wagner militia”.

“The unidentified armed groups had surrounded the camp, and were circling the town, but the planes reacted against them. We no longer hear shooting, the FAMA (Malian Armed Forces) are in the city everywhere in numbers,” said a resident contacted by telephone, Mahamoud Ould Mety.

End of the peace agreement?

Such an operation on the part of the groups would signify the bankruptcy of the peace agreement signed in 2015 by an alliance of predominantly Tuareg armed groups who entered into rebellion against the central state in 2012, by the government and by loyalist armed groups.

After weeks of growing tensions, one of the signatories of the so-called Algiers agreement, the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), indicated Monday evening that it now considered itself at “war” with the junta which took power. by force in Bamako in 2020.

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