Mali state of emergency ‘extended by 6 months

Mali has extended a state of emergency by six months until October 31, a source in the parliament told AFP on Saturday, as the west African nation battles a jihadist insurgency.

MPs meeting on Friday “voted unanimously” to extend the state of emergency, according to this source.

The measure has been renewed several times since jihadists stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako in November 2015, killing 20 people in an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda’s regional branch.

The decree, which was due to expire Saturday, hands extra powers to security forces and restricts public gatherings.

The country’s troubled north has witnessed a spate of jihadist strikes despite the emergency.

Last month, armed men killed five soldiers and injured 10 others in an attack on an army post in the tense Timbuktu region.

The last time the government extended the measure, it said the “security situation in Mali and in the sub-region is still characterised by the continued threat of terrorism and serious attacks on people and their belongings.”

Mali’s north fell under the control of jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012 who hijacked an ethnic Tuareg-led rebel uprising, though the Islamists were largely ousted by a French-led military operation in January 2013.

But jihadists continue to roam the country’s north and centre, mounting attacks on civilians and the army, as well as on French and UN forces still stationed there.

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