It was reported by local authorities that this week dozens of civilians were killed in the town of Talataye, which is situated in the northeastern part of Mali. Allegedly carried out by EIGS militants who have connections to the Islamic State group, the attack took place in a region that is strategically located at a crossroads of influence for competing terrorist groups.
The exact number of fatalities has not yet been determined. In fact, only bits and pieces of information from different people in the Sahelian village that is cut off from all communication networks give us any idea of the human tragedy that is happening there.
An official from the area stated that 45 civilians had been killed, but a fighter with the MSA, which stands for the Tuareg-dominated Movement for the Salvation of Azawad, stated that 30 civilians had been killed. Both individuals spoke to AFP under the condition of anonymity and stated that homes as well as the market had been set on fire. An international humanitarian worker who was present in the region stated that there had been “several dozen” civilians murdered.
Allegedly, fighting has been going on since Tuesday between militants belonging to the EIGS group, the JNIM/GSIM group, which is affiliated with al-Qaida, and other armed organizations, including the Tuareg-dominated Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA). It is possible that this will be the first time that the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara group launches an offensive of this magnitude against Talataye, if the reports are accurate.
The air offensive was announced by the Government of Mali on Tuesday. There was talk of a Malian military air offensive on Wednesday, according to the reports. AFP reported on Friday that the head of communications for the army was speaking to local media, and they quoted him. The rumors that Talataye was surrounded by an ISIS-related group were refuted by Colonel Souleymane Dembélé.
On Friday, a women’s association from the surrounding area, which has its headquarters in Gao, made an impassioned request for people to “come to the help of the abused population.”