Maliw President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has admitted that his government are now prepared to talk to jihadist groups, as reported by French media. The army has been in recent months been experiencing heavy losses in the hands of Islamic fighters. The Jihadist groups have also stepped up their attacks on both civilians and soldiers in neighbouring countries.
According to reports, the unending bloodshed in northern and central Mali has forced Bamako to rethink its strategy. Keita did not reveal what is being done and how the authorities are holding talks with Jihadists groups. Mali government has already announced that it will recruit 10,000 additional soldiers in order to counter the threat. Last week the United Nations' top humanitarian official in Mali, Ute Kollies said that more troops and more guns were not the solutions to Mali's problems.
Last year, Islamic militants and ethnic-based militias killed more than 450 civilians in central Mali making it the deadliest year in the region since the country's crisis began in 2012, Human Rights Watch said in a new report on Monday. Militants have even begun pulling men off of public transport based on their ethnicity and killing them, the group said, underscoring how Islamic extremists have inflamed tensions between communities that long-lived in relative peace.
Islamic extremist groups have been recruiting men from the Peuhl ethnic group to their cause, while in turn the armed Dogon militias that have arisen are accused of supporting Mali's military crackdown on jihadists. Of the 456 civilian deaths, 116 were directly blamed on the Islamic extremists. The remaining 340 killings were acts of communal violence carried out by ethnic-based militias, and the report said the true toll is unknown.
Witnesses told investigators that in one instance last year jihadists had stopped two public transport vehicles that were bringing people back from a nearby market. Armed militants then dragged off 11 men who all belonged to the Dogon ethnic group at the checkpoint not far from Sevare. Seven bodies were later found with bullets to the heads; the four others were never found.