On Saturday morning, it is suspected that up to six people were killed after a group of suspected Islamist fighters attacked a military camp in western Mali that sits near the border of Mauritania. While residents of a nearby village hid in their homes, gunfire erupted around 5am in the town of Nara which is only about thirty kilometers south of the Mauritanian border. The army fought the attackers back until around 9am.
Although a death toll has not been confirmed, a military nurse said that two members of Mali’s National Guard had been killed, as well as four fighters, while another resident of Nara said he had seen about four bodies in the street, including a Malian soldier.
Senior Malian army officers have indicated that the attackers were most likely Islamist fighters from the Peuhl ethnic group under the name of the Massina Liberation Front who are suspected of having clashed with government troops in the Mopti region earlier this month are responsible for numerous attacks so far.
Ever since the French-led military campaign in 2013 that had liberated Northern Mali from al-Qaeda linked rebels, insecurity has persisted with violence that had previously been focused in the north Tuareg area gradually creeping South. The Massina Liberation Front has been called a deadly extremist group, bringing with it a harsh and violence brand of Islamic law which has many concerned about its ability to launch Mali into yet another massive armed conflict. Since January, the group has been targeting locals as well as United Nations peacekeepers, French troops and Malian government forces. Not only this, but they have also threatened to kill anyone who collaborates with these forces and has committed violent atrocities against those who do not follow their strict Islamic rules.