The large Malian army column that departed from Gao on the morning of October 2nd has now reached Tarkint in the Gao region, on the road leading to Anefis and Kidal. Its final destination remains a secret. The transitional Malian authorities describe this as a “reconquest” operation, while armed groups from the Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP) are receiving reinforcements from neighboring Niger.
After a stop in Tin Aouker, the column of Malian armed forces (Fama), consisting of around a hundred vehicles, arrived in Tarkint on Monday evening, in the Bourem district, about 120 kilometers north of Gao. Its progress has been hindered by several incidents: the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), linked to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the Tuesday morning attack “on the Malian army convoy and Wagner mercenaries” in Tarkint. For this attack with an improvised explosive device, no official casualty figures have been released by the jihadists. Local security sources report one to six destroyed vehicles and several injured Malian soldiers since Monday.
JNIM Mines and Harassment by CSP
A few hours earlier, in the night from Monday to Tuesday, an “harassment” operation against the Fama-Wagner column was claimed by the rebels of the Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP). This coalition of certain northern rebel groups that signed the 2015 peace agreement has resumed attacks against pro-junta forces from Bamako. The CSP’s stated objective is to prevent Malian soldiers from resting and to force them to use up ammunition. There were exchanges of gunfire, but no confrontation.
“Reconquering Our Lands,” says Colonel Malick Diaw
On Monday, during the opening of the October parliamentary session, Malick Diaw stated that “security throughout the entire territory is an absolute priority.” Without directly referring to the ongoing Malian offensive, Diaw, one of the five Colonels in power in Bamako and president of the National Transitional Council (CNT, the legislative body of the Transition), added, “We have faith in the future, and we are with our Fama in this reconquest of our lands that have long been occupied by hordes of barbarians… Everything can be negotiated except the partition of Mali.”
Highlighting once again the “ramp-up” of the national army, Colonel Malick Diaw also said that “the flag of Mali must fly high, very high, all over the national territory.”