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Mali extends state of emergency as jihadist attacks persist

By AFP 20 April 2017

A state of emergency that has been in force almost non-stop for 17 months in Mali was extended by 10 days from Thursday, the government said.

The measure has been renewed several times since jihadists stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako in November 2015, killing 20 people in an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda’s regional branch.

The west African nation’s troubled north has witnessed a spate of jihadist strikes despite the emergency. On Tuesday armed men killed five soldiers and injured 10 others in an attack on an army post in the tense Timbuktu region.

“Almost every day we receive reports of abominable acts of terrorism committed by enemies of peace and enemies of the country and its people,” Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, said on Tuesday.

The government on Wednesday said the extension was needed as the “security situation in Mali and in the sub-region is still characterised by the continued threat of terrorism and serious attacks on people and their belongings.”

The decree hands extra powers to security forces and restricts public gatherings.

Mali’s north fell under the control of jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012 who hijacked an ethnic Tuareg-led rebel uprising, though the Islamists were largely ousted by a French-led military operation in January 2013.

But jihadists continue to roam the country’s north and centre, mounting attacks on civilians and the army, as well as French and UN forces still stationed there. DM

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