Suspected jihadists attack Mali river boat

The Malian army reported on social media that a passenger boat on the Niger River in northern Mali came under attack on Thursday by individuals suspected to be jihadists.

“At around 11:00 am (1100 GMT), armed terrorist groups… attacked a Comanav boat” in the Gourma-Rharous area, it said, referring to the ferry’s operator.

The boat, which was following a regular route between cities along the river, was struck by “three rockets,” as confirmed separately by Comanav.

There were no immediate details of any casualties.

This assault follows an announcement in August by the Al-Qaeda-linked alliance known as the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM) that they were imposing a blockade on Timbuktu, the historically significant crossroads city in northern Mali.

The economically challenged nation has been grappling with security challenges since 2012 when a rebellion led by ethnic Tuaregs erupted in the restive northern regions.

The insurgency, which was exacerbated by the involvement of jihadists, extended its reach three years later, spreading its campaign into central Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, thus sending shockwaves throughout the Sahel region.

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