New losses for Mali army at height of political crisis
Mali's army suffered new losses in twin attacks on Sunday that left at least five soldiers dead as the Sahel country was mired in a political crisis sparking international concern.
Five soldiers were killed and five were wounded in an ambush on a military convoy and an artillery attack on a camp, with both attacks blamed on jihadists, in central Mali, army and local sources said.
The bloodshed came some six weeks after jihadists ambushed a military convoy, also in central Mali, killing 24 soldiers.
Jihadists unleashed a revolt in northern Mali in 2012 that has since spread to the centre of the poor Sahel country and to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger despite the presence of thousands of French and UN troops.
Conflict in Northern Mali
Since the toppling of President Amadou Toumani Touré in late March, Mali appears trapped in a hopeless political crisis: While a band of soldiers staged a mutiny in the capital Bamako, within a few days rebel Tuaregs and Islamist groups seized control of the north of the country in a bid to declare an independent state. This unlikely alliance has since faltered, threatening to further exacerbate the conflict in this West African nation. Texts: Annett Hellwig
Coup in Bamako
Tuareg Berber populations in Mali
Azawad – Land of the Nomads
The Islamist Advance
Crime and Drug Trafficking
The latest attacks came as President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita faces insistent calls to resign from an opposition angry over the brutal jihadist conflict as well as dire economic conditions and perceived corruption.
Much of the current tension was sparked in April, when the Constitutional Court tossed out 30 results from long-delayed parliamentary elections – a move that benefitted Keita's party.
The so-called June 5 Movement (M5-RFP) has continued to insist on Keita's departure, despite two mediation missions by the regional bloc ECOWAS which suggested a new unity government and a resolution to the election quarrel.
M5-RFP has said it would resume acts of "civil disobedience" on Monday after observing a truce for the Eid ul-Adha festival, a key Muslim holiday that began on Friday. (AFP)