More than 200 militants have been killed in the Sahel region, Mali’s army has confirmed. The military operation comes at a point when there has been an excessive surge in violence in the African country. Revealing the details about the operation, Mali’s army said that the military operation began on March 23 for nine days in Sahel’s Moura region. The region of operation was called a “terrorist fiefdom” by army.
The announcement by army comes in the backdrop of several social media reports in Mali alleging this week that scores of people had been killed in Moura, including civilians. The army has, however, clarified that Malian soldiers had killed 203 militants, with 51 people being arrested. The army has also reportedly seized large quantities of weapons in the operation conducted in Sahel region.
Lack of independent sources for information and difficult access to conflict areas of Mali make it a tough task to confirm the numbers provided by government or armed groups.
Since 2012, Mali with population of 21 million has struggled to contain the jihadist insurgency. The movement has now spread beyond Mali borders to impact neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger. The country is mauled down amid various rebel groups and militias with thousands of civilians as well as soldiers having been killed in the catastrophic war between government and rebel groups.
Mali’s army has often been accused of committing crimes and abuses during conflict in the name of curbing the jihadist insurgency in the country. United Nations Secretary General António Guterres recently warned the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that Mali’s counter terrorism efforts had “disastrous consequences for the civilian population”. In a statement released on Friday, Mali’s army defended its stand and said that it is guided by international law and human rights, calling for “restraint against defamatory speculations”.