UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — An al Qaeda-linked group based in Mali claimed responsibility for an attack on an army base that killed 23 soldiers last week, the group’s media arm said in a statement on Friday, saying the attack was motivated by violence against the Fulani cattle herders.
Violence by hardline Islamists in the impoverished Sahel region has increased in recent years as al Qaeda-linked groups and the organization of the Islamic state in central and northern Mali have been used as a base for attacks across the region.
The Support for Islam and Muslims group, an umbrella organization of al Qaeda-linked fighters in West Africa and Morocco, raised unrest during Mali’s presidential election in July 2018, launched a series of attacks in neighboring Burkina Faso and killed 10 Chadian peacekeepers in Mali earlier in the year.
The latest attack took place on Sunday in the village of Dura in the central province of Mopti when gunmen attacked and briefly occupied an army base.
“This attack comes in response to the heinous crimes committed by the Bamako government forces and the militia members who support them against our Fulani people,” the group said in a statement on Friday.
Mali has been in trouble since 2012 when Tuareg rebels took control of the north of the country and marched towards the capital Bamako. France led an intervention that forced them to retreat in 2013 but Islamist groups reappeared later in the north and center of the country, exploiting the ethnic rivalry between the Tuaregs and the Fulani cattle herders .
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