Over the weekend, al Qaeda’s Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) claimed Thursday’s deadly raid on a Malian army base in the northern town of Tarkint in the Gao region.
According to Malian officials, at least 29 soldiers were killed in the attack while another 5 were wounded. French outlet RFI reported that the raid progressed under JNIM’s usual modus operandi.
Dozens of jihadists arriving on motorcycles and other vehicles targeted the base from three directions before overwhelming the base.
In JNIM’s version of events, the al Qaeda branch lends little additional information.
However, it states that its men were able to capture several weapons. including DShK heavy machine guns, RPGs, an SPG-9 rocket launcher. Many vehicles were also reportedly taken from the base.
Unconfirmed photos reportedly from the raid appear to confirm these claims, though photos have not been released through JNIM’s official channels as of the time of publishing.
Additionally, the jihadist group frames the assault within its earlier calls for negotiations with the Malian government. JNIM states that as the “Malian government continues to display hesitation and confusion” the jihadists will continue assaults on military targets.
Aligned with its earlier statement, JNIM repeats its prerequisite demand for French withdrawal from Mali before it enters into any talks with the Malian government.
This political move is meant to portray the jihadist group as a populist movement within Mali, which is part of JNIM’s longterm strategy of building popular support among local populations.
Along with an ascending Islamic State branch in the region, al Qaeda’s JNIM continues to mount its own deadly attacks across the Sahel further compounding the already worsening security situation.