Bamako, July 17 (IANS/EFE) At least 30 jihadis were killed on Thursday in a raid carried out by the Malian army against a terrorist camp in a forest in the Sikasso region in southern Mali.
Military officials said the army targeted the Sama forest, and then another unit moved in to dismantle the camp, as part of an operation that was successful in confiscating weapons, ammunition, maps, notebooks and several motorcycles.
On Tuesday, Malian security forces arrested 20 suspected jihadis in the same region, on the border with Ivory Coast, including an alleged perpetrator of an attack carried out in March against a restaurant in Bamako that left five people killed, including two Europeans.
That attack was claimed by the jihadi group al-Murabitun, led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who is responsible for some of the bloodiest attacks in the region, such as taking hostages in a gas field in Algeria in 2013, when nearly 70 people were killed.
On July 10, Malian authorities put the country on high alert, while police forces stepped up security at places of worship and markets with the celebrations marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in sight.
Additionally, workers from diplomatic missions and UN agencies were told to exercise extreme caution and to limit their movement.
Although the Malian government and Tuareg rebels signed a peace agreement in June, conflict still wages on with jihadi groups.