BAMAKO, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) — At least 49 civilians and 15 soldiers were killed on Thursday during a dual terrorist attack in northern Mali, the Malian government said in a statement.
Claimed by the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), the two attacks targeted the passengers of the boat “Tombouctou” and a military camp of the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) in Gao region, it said. “In response to this double attack, a combined air-land action by our valiant FAMa made it possible to neutralize around 50 terrorists,” the statement said. “Immediate arrangements were made to evacuate all passengers and secure the places which are still the subject of sweeping and surveillance.”
A few hours after the attacks, Mali’s interim president, Assimi Goita, declared a three-day national mourning starting Thursday. Since 2012, Mali has been plagued by insurgencies, jihadist incursions, and inter-community violence that have left thousands of people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.
This came as 107 al-Shabab fighters surrendered to the Somali government forces in Mogadishu between July and August, according to the country’s counterterrorism center.
Abdullahi Mohamed Nor, the director of the National Center for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, said the militants surrendered in four states — Hirshabelle, Galmudug, Southwest and Jubaland states.
“Those who surrendered include young children who were radicalized, youth, women and group commanders, and they will be offered amnesty and then taken for rehabilitation,” the director told journalists in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.
He urged the group fighters intending to benefit from the government’s amnesty to follow suit, saying they would welcome defecting from the al-Shabab terror group.
“There are two reasons why the number of al-Shabab members surrendering to the government has increased. First, it is the pressure of the ongoing offensive operations in the country, and second, it is that they are making use of the president’s amnesty offer,” he said.
This move comes as the fighting between the Somali National Army and the group fighters intensified on several fronts, mainly in south-central Somalia.