In the north of Mali, nothing comes to the city and the price of goods increases. Armed groups threaten trucks that defy the no-passing order.
Jihadists have besieged Timbuktu in northern Mali for several days, local actors said on Monday (Aug 21), where product prices have started to rise. “Jihadists”Blocked all roads“, an elected official told AFP on condition of anonymity for his safety.”Nothing happens between Timbuktu and the southNor by the Niger River, which flows south of the city, he added.
«Everything is expensive in Timbuktu because the products do not enter the city. Jihadists blocked the roads. It is very difficult“, a town hall official concealed his identity.
“We Declare War”
The ban followed messages broadcast on social networks in early August attributed to a local commander of the al-Qaeda-linked jihadist alliance Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM). “We declare war on Timbuktu. Trucks from Algeria, Mauritania and any other sourceTheir progress must be halted, these messages say. There will be trucks that violate this orderThey aimed and set fire“, they warn. These threats coincide with the ongoing security transition in the Timbuktu region.333 City of Saints» Listed as a World Heritage Site.
The UN mission (Minusma), pushed out of Mali by the now-ruling military regime, has been transferred to the Malian authorities, leaving two camps near Timbuktu, Ber and Goundam. This takeover by the Malian government led to fighting with jihadists and strong tensions with former Tuareg rebels.
Timbuktu, home to tens of thousands of people on the edge of the Sahara, was one of the main cities in the north to fall to Tuareg rebels after a 2012 uprising, then Salafists. French forces and Malians took over. City in 2013. Former rebels signed a peace deal with the Malian government in 2015 that is now in tatters. Radical Islamists continue to fight against the Malian government and foreign presence. Jihadism has spread to central Mali and neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso.
The UN mission currently maintains a base in Timbuktu, but all peacekeepers must have left Mali by December 31.
Territorial control is a key issue for the military, which has taken power by force in 2020 and has sovereignty as one of its mantras. Large parts of Mali continue to escape state authority.
Armed jihadists can be seen forty kilometers from Timbuktu and further south towards the Tauntsa region, where they have been relentlessly occupying the national road leading to Khao, another major city in the north, according to witnesses. Many trucks are blocked or forced to turn back.
For the Niger River,The waterway to Khao has been blocked. A pinas (boat) trying to force the passage was shot and one passenger diedAn elected official said. “A liter of gasoline went from 845 CFA francs (just over one euro) to 1,250 FCFA (about two euros) in a week.said the manager of a gas station.
The authorities were relatively discreet. A military official, who asked to remain anonymous, said the military was arranging convoy escorts to supply Timbuktu. State television said on Friday that a regional commander, Col. Mamadou S. Kone aired a report showing the visit to Timbuktu, according to the report, “A big move by some traders who left the market in fear“, the official condemnedSocial media addiction“. assured the peopleDefense and security forces are there for themselves (…) and nothing bad will happen to them».
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