The Malian army said on Thursday it had carried out air strikes against jihadists from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Macina Katiba in the centre of the country following the massacre of at least 132 civilians.
The army said in a statement received by AFP on Thursday that it carried out the strikes between Monday and Wednesday in the vicinity of Bankass and Segue, near the scene of the massacre, but also further afield in the Djenne and Tenenkou areas.
“These actions are the result of efforts to search for and gather information on the perpetrators of the attacks against civilians on 18 June,” the statement said. The army did not provide any assessment of these operations.
Carnage of civilians
Mali suffered one of its worst civilian killings over the weekend, the latest in an ongoing series across the Sahel. According to the government, 132 civilians were killed in Diallassagou and two surrounding localities, a few dozen kilometres from Bankass.
The Malian army described the killings as a backlash against the “strong pressure” it said the jihadists had been under for several months. The UN, France and many observers have expressed grave concern about the deteriorating security situation in Mali.
Several dozen residents demonstrated on Tuesday in Bankass to demand state protection. Mali has been plunged into deep security, political and humanitarian crises since the outbreak of independence and jihadist insurgencies in the north in 2012. The jihadist spread has spread to the centre and to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.