Jihadist shelling of the historic city of Timbuktu has killed two people, as security worsens under Mali’s military junta ahead of a departure by United Nations peacekeepers.
The UN world heritage site in north Mali has been under siege by al-Qaeda linked jihadists for six weeks, with supplies dwindling.
Officials for the military government said at least five were wounded in the attack by “terrorists”.
Mali has had two military coups since 2020 and the current junta is struggling to fight growing violence in the region, after demanding the withdrawal of around 17,000 peacekeepers.
Attacks in northern Mali have more than doubled since the UN force finished the first phase of its withdrawal last month, after a decade of fighting Islamic extremists.
The collapse of a 2015 peace deal with Tuareg rebels has deepened the security crisis.
Army struggling to resist jihadists
Mali’s military used the civilian government’s failure to provide security as a justification for its 2020 coup, but the army has also struggled to resist the jihadists.
France withdrew its own forces last year as the junta turned to mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner group for help.
The country is now suffering an average of four violent attacks per day, up 15 per cent on last year, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.
More than 150 people have died in northern Mali since late August alone.
Meanwhile, militants linked to al-Qaeda or Islamic State group have almost doubled the territory they control in less than a year.
Wagner’s help is not enough to fill the gap left by the UN forces when they leave at the end of the year, Rida Lyammouri, a senior fellow at the Policy Centre for the New South think tank, told AP.
He said that a security forces offensive in northern Mali would be limited to a “few airstrikes [with] no operations on the ground against CSP forces [rebels]”.
Without the peacekeepers, the country’s “ability to curtail militant groups” would be limited, predicted Ryan Cummings, director of the Africa-focused security consulting company Signal Risk.
He said the withdrawal “is expected to deteriorate an already tenuous security environment in Mali that could potentially have wide-reaching implications for the economic and political environment of the country, particularly in relation to Mali’s intended political transition”.
The post Two killed in Jihadist shelling attack on Mali’s Timbuktu appeared first on The Telegraph.