Mali cancels independence day celebrations in wake of attacks

The council of ministers in Mali’s ruling junta has announced the cancellation of next week’s independence anniversary celebrations due to a resurgence of hostilities in the northern regions.

Late on Wednesday, the council of ministers also deliberated on the potential mobilization of reservists.

In the aftermath of junta leader Assimi Goita’s decision to call off the celebrations, the council conveyed that the anniversary would now be observed “celebrated in sobriety and in the spirit of national revival”, as stated in their announcement.

Goita has directed the government to reallocate the funds originally earmarked for the celebrations to provide assistance to the victims and families affected by a series of recent attacks, as per the statement.

This week, Mali, which was previously thrown into turmoil in 2012 due to independence and Salafist uprisings in the north, has experienced a renewed outbreak of hostilities primarily involving Tuareg armed separatist factions.

On Tuesday, these factions initiated an attack on army positions in the garrison town of Bourem, which the military reported they had successfully defended against.

Both parties issued conflicting accounts of the events, yet both acknowledged numerous casualties, with dozens reported dead.

The recent surge in military actions by Tuareg separatists has occurred simultaneously with a series of attacks primarily attributed to the Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist alliance known as the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM).

This development aligns with the concurrent withdrawal of the UN stabilization mission MINUSMA, which the junta is expelling after its ten-year deployment.

A series of recent attacks, attributed to GSIM, have resulted in the loss of numerous soldiers’ lives. These attacks occurred in the town of Bamba on September 7 and the city of Gao on September 8.

An attack on a passenger boat on the Niger River, blamed on jihadists, left dozens of civilians dead last week.

Goita expressed his “deep distress” at the losses caused by “the savage and barbaric attack against the boat (and) the assaults on the camps in the towns of Bamba, Gao and Bourem”, the council of ministers said.

It was his first public remarks on the boat attack.

On September 22, 1960, Mali, formerly a French colony, achieved its independence and became a sovereign republic.

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