In the aftermath of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and parts of the Middle East, questions have been raised about the role of the West in protecting this forgotten African region from insurgency.
Since President Emmanuel Macron announced this summer the withdrawal of half of the French soldiers who have formed the backbone of Western intervention and peacekeeping, many Malians fear an Afghan-style disaster.
Just last week, the president paid tribute to the 52nd French soldier who died in or around Mali. Russian mercenaries are ready to fill the void.
Malians continue to die
After eight years of war, 2020 ended as the deadliest year in the history of Mali, with 2,845 deaths compared to 544 recorded in 2012. The year 2021 seems to follow the same path.
The raid on the village of Kassim in Ouatagouna took place at 6 p.m. on August 8. The 33-year-old mason said about 80 jihadists came out of nowhere on motorcycles.
They wore long dresses and turbans in dark djellaba and carried guns. Everyone they encountered was shot dead. Only the women were spared. The men were taken out of their vehicles or their homes, laid on the ground and shot in the head.
“When the shooting stopped, I left the room where I had taken refuge,” said Mohamed, 30, a trader who also survived.
“The street in front of my house was flooded with blood. I saw my uncle’s body among many men.”
In total, the coordinated attacks on Ouatagouna and neighboring Karou left 38 men and four children dead in the dust. The youngest was only ten years old, reveals a UN report obtained by The Telegraph.
British soldiers on an international peacekeeping patrol recall the immediate aftermath of the shooting. The massacre shocked even veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.