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Days of mourning begin in Mali after weekend attacks

Malian troops take position outside the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 20, 2015.   -  
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HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP -

Mali

Malian national flags were at half mast in Bamako on Tuesday, the first of the three days of mourning decreed by the government, following weekend attacks that killed dozens in the center of the country.

The government said the attacks, in which 132 people were killed, were carried out by jihadi rebels of the Katiba group in villages in the Bankass area on Saturday and Sunday.

In the streets of the capital, those who migrated from the region affected by the violence, said there was no rule of law there.

"We live without law. It's every man for himself, it is the law of the strongest. The population sees what is happening, but they can't do anything about it," said Amadou Kassambala who left his hometown Kourientze, (in Mopti) to work as street seller in Bamako.

The attacks show that Islamic extremist violence is spreading from Mali's north to more central areas like Bankass.

For several weeks extremist rebels in central Mali have been blocking the road between Mopti and the northern city of Gao.

According to security analyst, Baba Dakono, the areas attacked last weekend are those that signed local peace agreements with some armed groups considered terrorists, including Macina Katiba.

Even when those accords were not welcomed by everybody, they have contributed to relative stability in the region, Dakono, the director of the Citizen's Observatory on Governance and Security, explained.

"The resurgence of tension is perhaps linked to the expiration today of these local agreements, but also can be linked to the intensification of military operations by the defense forces that may be putting an end to the dialogue process that had been initiated by the Malian authorities since 2019," he said.

The U.S and France also condemned the attacks.

Dakono said that in order to resolve the security issue, it was necessary to "move towards global solutions that include not only the military response, but also political responses that take into account the concerns of the people."

Since the beginning of the year, several hundred civilians have died in attacks in central and northern Mali.

The attacks are blamed on jihadi rebels as well as the Malian army, according to a report by the human rights division of the U.N. mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA.

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