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JNIM claims string of attacks across Mali

Over the past two days, al Qaeda's Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) has released several claims of responsibility for a series of assaults across Mali. Many of these occurred in southern and central Mali, while others took place in the northern region of Kidal.

The first claim released was for the Oct. 23 attack on a gendarmerie post in the village of Dioro in the central Segou region. JNIM claims its forces briefly took over the post, capturing weapons and equipment before retreating. In the same statement, it also claimed an assault on a gendarmerie post in the village of Ouan, also in the Segou region. The last claim in the statement was for an ambush on a Malian vehicle with a landmine near Tenenkou in the Mopti region.

The Malian military confirmed each attack as taking place, confirming several casualties. This includes one killed and two wounded in the assault in Ouan, while two others were wounded in the landmine blast.

In its next claim, JNIM said its fighters clashed with Malian guarding employees of the French company SATOM between the towns of Soumpi and Niafunke in the Timbuktu region. The jihadist conglomerate said that it killed two soldiers and wounded several others. Malian forces confirmed both the attack and the casualties. In the same statement, it also claimed an IED blast on a UN vehicle in Kidal.

In its last statement, it claimed yesterday's IED attack on UN forces between Aguelhok and Tessalit in the Kidal region. The UN said that three of its peacekeepers were killed in the blast, while two others were wounded. This largely confirms with what JNIM reported in its claim.

At the same time, JNIM also released a statement blaming a French military raid for killing 11 Malian soldiers it was holding hostage near the northern town of Abeibara. However, this has been denied by French forces. In addition, the claim warrants several questions about why and how soldiers kidnapped in the south were all held together in a town in the far north of Kidal. The 11 were supposed to appear in a JNIM video but the video was never publicly released.

While not claimed, JNIM is also suspected in an IED attack occurring on Oct. 25 near the town of Mondoro in the central Mopti region. According to the Malian military, two soldiers were wounded in the blast.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been at least 218 attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger linked to al Qaeda according to data compiled by FDD's Long War Journal.

[Source: By Caleb Weiss, Threat Matrix, The Long War Journal, NJ, 27Oct17]

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