IED Attack Kills Three Wagner Personnel in Mali

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand. As the Africa Desk Chief for Atlas, her expertise spans conflict, politics, and history. She is also the Editor for The ModernInsurgent and has interests in yoga and meditation.

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Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), a militant jihadist organization affiliated with al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for killing three Wagner Group mercenaries in an IED attack on June 11th in Niono, Mali. This incident underscores the escalating violence in the Sahel region and highlights the increasing reliance of the Malian government on the Russian private military company amidst a deteriorating security situation.

What You Need to Know

According to a statement released by JNIM, “[On June 10th] a Malian army (FAMA) vehicle in the Farabongo/Sokoulou axis was completely destroyed. The next day, our mujahideen targeted a Wagner mercenary vehicle south of the city (Niono). As a result of this bombing, 3 people were killed and a number of wounded were among the Russian gangs. On Wednesday 18th, our mujahideen targeted a vehicle of the Malian army and Wagner mercenaries east of the city of Djabali in Sekou state. It resulted in the complete destruction of the vehicle, and a helicopter was forced to intervene to evacuate the vehicle from the scene of the accident. On the same day, our mujahideen targeted a patrol of Wagner mercenaries riding motorcycles in the Jaka/Jagrabi axis in Mopti state. God is great, and praise and grace be to God.”

So, What Now?

The group has stepped up its activities in recent weeks, particularly in the Sahel, with over 100 Burkinabe soldiers killed in an attack on a military post in the commune of Mansila, near the country’s border with Niger, on the same day as the IED attack in Mali.

For years, Mali has struggled to contain the Islamic insurgents operating in its border areas, prompting the nation’s military government under the command of Colonel Assimi Goita, to recruit Russia’s Wagner forces in December 2021.

However, the security situation in Mali and the wider Sahel, as seen in the recent attacks, has continued to deteriorate. Furthermore, the Malian government is now waging a counter-insurgency operation against multiple factions, complicating its response and stretching its forces thin. After announcing its termination of the 2015 Algiers Accord, which ended the Malian government’s conflict with the country’s Tuareg rebels, the rebels announced the creation of a new alliance, the Permanent Strategic Framework for the Defense of the People of Azawad (CSP-DPA).

The Malian Army’s reliance on Wagner has also created rifts between the government and its citizens, with Wagner tactics known to be particularly brutal. Moreover, as seen in the Burkina Faso attack, mass casualties of soldiers create tensions between the military and the leadership of the country. In the coming weeks and months, we are likely to see increased attacks on military installations across the Sahel, which will likely push the region’s military juntas to further call on the aid of Russia’s Wagner, as well as its Africa Corps subsidiary, the ‘Bear Jedi Corps.’