Deadly mortar attack strikes historic Timbuktu amid ongoing jihadist siege
A deadly mortar attack struck the historic city of Timbuktu, leaving two people dead and five others injured, according to reports from the military.
The army attributed the shelling to “terrorists.”
Timbuktu, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been besieged by jihadists in recent weeks, resulting in severe food shortages.
The city’s history includes a capture by Islamist and Tuareg fighters in 2012, subsequently ousted by French forces. Despite their removal, jihadists continued to launch attacks from bases in the Sahara Desert to the north.
The ongoing insurgency played a significant role in Mali’s military seizing power in 2020, accusing the civilian government of failing to ensure security.
They pledged to curb militant attacks, but recent months have seen an upsurge in violence.
In a particularly tragic incident, an ambush on a river boat in the northeast claimed the lives of 49 people just two weeks ago.
The UN peacekeeping force, present in Mali since 2013, is now withdrawing at the request of the military government.
Last year, France withdrew its forces as the authorities turned to mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner group for assistance.
Thursday’s attack on Timbuktu, a center of Islamic learning and home to tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts, sent shockwaves through the city’s population, according to local media reports.
Since August, residents have grappled with shortages of food, petrol, and medicine, as jihadists warned against the entry of trucks from neighbouring regions, leading to a significant increase in the prices of these remaining goods.
In addition to the Timbuktu attack, the army reported successfully thwarting an attack 240km (150 miles) southwest in Léré town, resulting in the elimination of five militants.