132 civilians killed by rebel attacks in Central Mali, Government says

BAMAKO, Mali – Jihadist rebels’ attacks over the weekend in the West African country of Mali have killed 132 civilians, the government said on Monday.

The killings occurred when several villages near Bankass, in central Mali, were attacked, the government said in a statement. The attacks show that radical Muslim violence is spreading from the north of Mali to more central areas such as Bankass.

Three days of national mourning, starting Tuesday, have been declared by the head of the ruling army, Colonel Assimi Goita.

In a separate incident, a United Nations peacekeeper died Sunday from his injuries after an explosive device exploded, the UN mission in Mali said in a statement.

Since the beginning of the year, hundreds of civilians have been killed in attacks in central and northern Mali. The attacks are believed to have been carried out by jihadist rebels as well as the Malian Army.

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali began in 2013, after France led a military intervention to oust radical rebels who had seized major cities and towns in northern Mali. in the previous year.

The mission currently has about 12,000 troops in Mali and an additional 2,000 police and other officers. Officials say more than 270 peacekeepers have been killed in Mali, making it the deadliest UN peacekeeping mission.

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