Bamako (Agenzia Fides) - In a propaganda war, the jihadist extremist groups GSIM (also known by their Arabic acronym JNIM) and EIGS (also known as IS Sahel) operating in Mali claim through their respective social media to have inflicted heavy casualties on their opponent. GSIM reports killing at least 40 EIGS men and shows drone footage video showing the bodies of killed opponents and numerous weapons allegedly captured by the rival group. The clashes reportedly took place on December 7 south of Tessit in the Gao region. This area is not far from the so-called border triangle between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. Both groups, while based in Mali, also operate in Niger and Burkina Faso, where large parts of the territory are under jihadist control.
The EIGS, on the other hand, claims to have killed 100 GSIM fighters in the Ménaka region, which is even closer to the border triangle and controlled by the local Islamic State affiliate. Also from the Gao or Ménaka area is said to be the video released on December 13 of the ceremony, which probably took place at the end of November, of an oath of allegiance to the new "Caliph" of the Islamic State, Abou al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qourachi, who left the square of Abu al-Hasan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, who was killed in Syria in mid-October.
The videotaped ceremony was a show of force by the EIGS, with hundreds of fighters armed not only with light weapons but also with heavy anti-aircraft weapons such as machine guns on SUVs and motorcycles, the preferred mode of transport for the various armed groups in the Sahel. The presence of numerous fighters gathered in broad daylight in a desert area with no shelter also shows that the group no longer fears being targeted by airstrikes after the end of the Barkhane operation in the Sahel region last year. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 16/12/2022)
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