Bamako – Mali’s army said it had “neutralised” 50 “jihadists” in an area in the centre of the country where more than 130 civilians were killed a week ago.
The government blamed Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists for the massacre of civilians in Diallassagou and two neighbouring villages last weekend, the latest mass killings in the Sahel region.
“Fifty jihadists (were) neutralised” in the Diallassougou area where “the operational priorities were directed following the terrorist attack against the populations on the night of June 18 to 19,” the army said in a press release late on Friday.
The army also reported “two terrorist watchmen neutralised” in the central Mondoro area, in addition to “eight terrorist suspects arrested” in the south of the country during a separate operation.
The government has blamed Al-Qaeda-affiliated Macina Katiba jihadists for the killings of 132 civilians in the Diallassagou area in central Mali, one of the hotbeds of the violence that has plagued the Sahel for years.
The group denied carrying out the massacre in a statement, the SITE Intelligence monitoring group said on Friday.
The Diallassagou bloodshed is one of the worst civilian killings Mali has seen in recent years.
The Sahel country has since 2012 been rocked by jihadist insurgencies.
The violence began in the north and then spread to the centre and neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.