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Mali: ISIS affiliate kills nearly 50 civilians, reports say

Members of an Islamic State affiliate in Mali killed nearly 50 civilians in an attack this week on a town in a violence-plagued area bordering Burkina Faso and Niger, a Malian official reported.

Mali has faced instability since 2012, when Islamists started an ethnic Tuareg rebellion in the north. Since then they have spread across West Africa’s Sahel, killing thousands and displacing more than 2 million people in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

The coalition of pro-government militia, known as the Platform, said several hundred militants attacked its fighters and forced them to retreat on Tuesday near Talataye in the Gao region – long a hotspot for jihadist and militia violence.

As well as attacking local residents, the militants looted shops and burned food stocks, the Platform said in an online statement, adding that three of its fighters had also been killed.

“Reinforcements dispatched by the Platform reached the town where they discovered the massacre as well as hundreds of women and children who had been wandering the town without food for two days,” it reported.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the alleged attack and Malian authorities did not respond to a request for comment.

In March, the UN peacekeeping force in Mali expressed concern about the deteriorating security situation in the same area of the central part of the country, decrying the deaths of hundreds of civilians in a surge of attacks by the Islamic State affiliate.

Mali seeks ‘compensation’ for Ivorian soldiers’ release
Mali’s interim president wants a mutually beneficial solution to end a diplomatic row over 46 Ivorian soldiers detained in the country, noting that Ivory Coast has given asylum to political figures wanted by his junta.

The Ivorian soldiers were detained at Mali’s international airport in the capital, Bamako, on July 10. Mali’s junta said they had flown in without permission and were seen as mercenaries.

Ivory Coast, which has repeatedly requested their release, says the soldiers had been deployed as part of a security and logistics support contract signed with the UN peacekeeping mission.

Interim President Assimi Goita “has made it clear that at a time when Ivory Coast is requesting the release of its soldiers, it continues to serve as a political asylum for certain Malian political figures who are the subject of an international arrest warrant, the state broadcaster stated.

Mr Goita’s junta came to power in a coup two years ago, ousting former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, whose son Karim is in Ivory Coast along with former government ministers Tienan Coulibaly and Igor Diarra.

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