Mali militants return to village where raid killed 20

NOUAKCHOTT (AFP) – Militants have regained control of a village in central Mali, locals said, returning to the site of a recent attack that killed 20 members of the security forces.

The Malian army, which had retaken control of Soloko, had “fallen back” to the neighbouring area of Diabaly and militants had returned to the village, a local teacher told AFP.

The Sunday attack on the Soloko camp claimed by the Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) – an umbrella group of Al-Qaeda affiliates – killed 20 Malian security forces and wounded five, according to authorities. “The militants have raised their flag in the gendarmes’ camp,” said Hamed Drame, president of the Soloko youth association.

“There is a threat over the whole town. We have alerted the authorities but until now there has been no reaction from them.”

Sokolo is the last town before the Mauritanian border, near a forest considered a base for groups linked to Al-Qaeda.

Despite aid from French and United Nations (UN) forces, Mali is struggling to quell unrest that began in 2012 in the north of the country before spreading to its centre, as well as neighbouring Sahel states Burkina Faso and Niger.

A young girl at a camp for internally displaced people in Barsalogho. Barsalogho is a small town in northern Burkina Faso that hosts 10,000 displaced persons and refugees fleeing the resulting militant and inter-community violence. PHOTO: AFP