Attacks kill 5 soldiers and a civilian in Mali during key vote

Despite deadly attacks, the country successfully went ahead and held municipal elections, hoping to help secure a peace deal with armed groups.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Many armed groups carry out attacks in Mali, including some with links to Al Qaeda and others from the Tuareg community seeking independence for a region they call Azawad.

Updated Nov 22, 2016

At least five Malian soldiers and a civilian were killed in separate attacks aimed at sabotaging Mali’s municipal elections, security forces said on Monday.

The West African country went to the polls on Sunday in its first election since 2013. Voters are electing 12,000 councillors across Mali as the government wrestles with implementing a 2015 peace deal with militant groups. The nation has suffered from ongoing attacks by various armed groups despite a UN-led international military intervention.  

"After the voting on Sunday, an army convoy taking the ballot boxes for counting was attacked in the north," a security source said.

Separately, a civilian was killed in an attack on the town of Dili, in southwestern Mali.

"They arrived early Monday in Dilli. They attacked a council building. The jihadists then took off with two ambulances and a vehicle, after which they killed a civilian and [headed to] the Mauritanian border," a local official said, requesting to remain anonymous.

Although some Malians boycotted the elections, many formed long lines to vote outside polling booths in the capital Bamako. (AFP)

The Malian government wants elections to be held properly across the country.

"We have already delayed these elections four times so that they can be inclusive and four times is enough," President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita told reporters after voting on Sunday. The constitution bars any further delays.

When France launched its military intervention in Mali in January 2013, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, "The goal is the total reconquest of Mali. We will not leave any pockets." (AFP)

Drought, corruption, political marginalisation, and frustration among people in northern Mali triggered an armed conflict in 2012. Along with Tuareg rebels, several armed groups linked to Al Qaeda started to launch attacks and seized many cities, including Timbuktu, in the northern part of the country.

A UN-backed military intervention led by France in 2013 forced armed groups to retreat from the towns they captured.

Although a 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission is trying to stabilise Mali, dissident groups are still able to launch deadly attacks in the country.

TRTWorld and agencies