In the northern Malian city of Timbuktu, at least two individuals lost their lives, and five others were injured as artillery fire struck the city. This incident occurred amid a month-and-a-half-long blockade imposed by armed fighters in the region.
Northern Mali has witnessed a significant increase in attacks since the completion of the first phase of the United Nations peacekeepers’ withdrawal last month. This withdrawal followed a decade of conflict with armed groups, resulting in over 150 casualties.
The military issued a statement on Thursday confirming that Timbuktu had been subjected to artillery fire by terrorists. They reported a “provisional toll” of two fatalities and five injuries.
In August, the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), an al-Qaeda-linked organization, declared “war in the Timbuktu region.” They issued warnings to supply trucks from neighboring regions, advising them not to enter the city.
After a month and a half, tens of thousands of Timbuktu’s residents remain cut off from the outside world, facing severe challenges for survival. Baba Mohamed, a market seller in Timbuktu, expressed the increasing desperation within the city. He stated, “The market is currently facing significant difficulties, and if this situation persists, many shops will be forced to close. Without regular supplies of essential food items like oil, milk, sugar, rice, and millet, life becomes incredibly challenging for the population.”
Armed fighters have expanded their control over rural areas surrounding the more heavily fortified towns in northern Mali, intensifying pressure on the central government.