French government officials announced on Friday, November 13, that a senior commander of the Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) militant group had been killed in a French military operation. Bah ag Moussa, also known as Bamoussa Diarra, was reportedly killed in a raid by French forces in the Menaka area on Tuesday, November 10, involving aircraft and ground operations. The former Malian army colonel was second in command of the Al Qaeda-linked group, working closely with its leader Iyad Ag Ghali.
Further security operations are likely in the Menaka region, and other areas of northern and central Mali, in the medium term. There is a realistic possibility of retaliatory attacks targeting French forces or interests in the region in the medium term.
The killing of Bah ag Moussa comes amid an increase in operations by French forces in Mali in recent weeks targeting Islamist militant groups in the country. Dozens of suspected militants have been killed in targeted operations in the country since the assault in which Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) leader Abdelmalek Droukdel was killed by French forces in the Kidal region on June 3, but it remains unclear whether the operations have had a significant impact on terrorist capabilities in the region.
Due to the presence of various armed groups, Mali's northern and central regions remain unstable despite the presence of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), one of the largest UN peacekeeping missions in the world, a French-led intervention launched in 2013, and regional security efforts. Areas along the border with Burkina Faso have become particularly unstable in recent months, as militant groups increasingly operate across the frontier.
The security environment in Mali remains complex, particularly in the north and central regions, and those in the country should maintain a low profile and heed any directives issued by local authorities. Overland movement in the country should be subject to stringent journey management planning and procedures and professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.
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