The Malian army is currently conducting a massive offensive in the center of the country in which several jihadists have been killed, the government said in a statement on Monday.
The operation carried out with the support of the Malian Air Force, the statement said, follows two recent deadly attacks by jihadists in which a hundred Malian soldiers have died in a month.
These were the heaviest losses by the Malian army for years. Faced with these setbacks, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta had ordered the development of a « new operational concept that gives an important part to the offensive ».
The current offensive coincides with Bourgou 4, an operation led by the French anti-jihadist force Barkhane alongside local armies in the so-called three-border region of Mali-Niger-Burkina Faso. French Minister of Armies Florence Parly announced the launch of Bourgou 4 last week during a visit to the region.
« The defense and security forces in Mali have been engaged for a few days in a large-scale offensive against terrorist bases in some localities in the center of the country, » said the Malian government in a statement. « Several terrorists » were killed, he says without specifying the number, « burned vehicles and motorcycles, identity cards of several nationalities found on the spot and recovered military effects ».
The government has also formally denied the capture, conveyed on the social networks, of armored vehicles by the jihadists during their recent assaults against the positions of the Malian army.
The Malian army had already indicated over the weekend « reconsider (its) operational stance » and retreat as such from its isolated positions near the border of Niger and Burkina Faso to regroup in stronger places.
The deterioration of the security situation in the country and the severity of the setbacks have reinforced questions about the ability of the Malian army to cope with jihadist acts and other violence that Mali has been suffering since 2012 and who have made thousands of dead, civilians and combatants. The violence, which started in the north, spread to the center and neighboring countries.