Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Nearly 60 rebel fighters ‘neutralised’ in Mali: military

Nearly 60 rebel fighters ‘neutralised’ in Mali: military

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A protester holds a placard reading ‘France, gardener of terrorism’ during a demonstration organised by the pan-Africanst platform Yerewolo to celebrate France’s withdrawal of troops from Mali. AFP

Nearly 60 rebel fighters ‘neutralised’ in Mali: military

Eight soldiers and 57 “terrorists” were killed in clashes at a rebel base in northern Mali where rival jihadist groups, including the so-called Islamic State, are active, the Malian army said on February 19.

February 18’s fighting followed an air raid and erupted just a day after France and its allies announced their military withdrawal from the African country.

The Malian army said it carried out the attack against the rebel base after its troops had been attacked by “unidentified armed men” in the Archam region in the conflict-plagued north, near the border with restive Burkina Faso and Niger.

Eight soldiers died and 57 armed rebels were “neutralised” in the ensuing “violent clashes”, the army said.

Mali, a landlocked nation of 21 million people, has struggled to contain a brutal jihadist insurgency that emerged in 2012, before spreading to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and two million people have been displaced by the Sahel-wide conflict, of which Mali remains the epicentre.

About 40 civilians – believed to be loyal to rival jihadist groups, according to local sources – were killed last week in the same area where the incident on February 18 occurred.

It took place in the so-called “three borders” area, a hotspot of jihadist violence where the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS) and the Sahel’s largest jihadist alliance, the al-Qaeda-aligned GSIM group, are particularly active.

The Mali army said it had been looking for “terrorist sanctuaries” in the area.

The forces deployed to the “three borders” area include Mali’s own army, as well as French and European troops and UN peacekeepers.

Just a day before, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the withdrawal of French troops from Mali.

France first intervened in the country in 2013 and currently has around 4,600 troops stationed across the Sahel, 2,400 of them in Mali.

But relations between the two countries deteriorated sharply after Malian army officers led by Colonel Assimi Goita deposed elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020.

The army then deposed the civilian leaders of a transitional government last year, in a second coup.

Mali’s international partners – including France and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – insisted that the junta stick to a pledge to stage elections in February 2022 and restore civilian rule.

But the junta then floated plans to stay in power for up to five years.

On February 18, Mali’s army-led government asked France to withdraw its forces from the Sahel state “without delay”.

Mali has also asked the smaller European Takuba group of special forces, created in 2020, to depart quickly.

But Macron responded with a statement saying he would compromise the safety of French soldiers and the withdrawal will take place “in orderly fashion”.


  • South Korea’s first lady brings hope to ill boy

    South Korea’s first lady Kim Keon-hee – wife of current president of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol – met with a 14-year-boy with congenital heart disease during her trip to the Kingdom for the ASEAN Summit. After their meeting it was announced that the

  • Hun Sen gets Covid, shuns G20, APEC summits

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said he has tested positive for Covid-19 in Indonesia, where he is slated to attend the G20 summit in his capacity of the ASEAN chair. In a social media post addressing the Cambodian public, he said: “Before leaving Cambodia, I always

  • Moody’s sets outlook rating to ‘negative’ for Cambodia

    US global rating agency Moody’s Investors Service Inc on November 15 announced that it downgraded Cambodia’s outlook from “stable” to “negative” and maintained its B2 local and foreign currency issuer ratings. “The negative outlook reflects a deteriorating external position as illustrated by the severe

  • Hun Sen’s Covid infection caused by ‘weakened antibody’ after summit

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said exhaustion from heavy workload before and during the recent ASEAN Summit may have led to him contracting Covid-19 due to his weakened immune system, while rejecting speculations that the infection was caused by leaders of some countries who did not

  • Korean first lady paves way for ill boy’s surgery

    A 14-year-old boy with congenital heart disease who was lucky enough to meet with South Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee may get the chance of a lifetime and receive surgery and treatment at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea. After seeing his plight, many

  • Kingdom’s rice crowned world’s No1

    Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol jasmine variety has been crowned the World’s Best Rice for the fifth time at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17, according to leaders of the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body. Phka Rumduol