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Mali cancels Independence day celebrations after attacks

Adama Diarra, known as 'Ben the Brain', harangues the crowd from the Independence Monument, on Feb. 19, 2023.   -  
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Mali's ruling junta has cancelled festivities planned for the anniversary of the country's independence celebrated on September 22.

The announcement was made public Wednesday following a council of ministers.

Last year, Guinea's ruling military leader attended the military parade organized for the festivities of Mali’s 62nd independence anniversary.

During Wednesday's council of ministers, Mali’s military leader ordered the government to allocate the funds planned for this year's festivities to help victims of a series of recent attacks and their families.

The council also discussed the possible mobilisation of reservists.

The announcement of "sober" independence anniversary coincides with a renewed military activity by the Tuareg separatists, and a succession of attacks attributed mainly to the Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist alliance Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM).

On Tuesday, Tuareg armed separatist groups launched an offensive against army positions in the garrison town of Bourem, which the army said it had repelled.

The two sides provided contradictory reports of events, but both reported dozens of deaths.

An attack on a passenger boat on the Niger River, blamed on jihadists, left dozens of civilians dead last week.

These events take place under the backdrop of the ongoing withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission to Mali.

Mali was plunged into turmoil in 2012 after a separatists and Islamist insurrections broke out in the north.

Goita expressed his "deep distress" at the losses caused by "the savage and barbaric attack against the boat (and) the assaults on the camps in the towns of Bamba, Gao and Bourem", the council of ministers said.

It was his first public remarks on the boat attack.

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