AFRICA/MALI - The drama of the village of Douna, threatened by jihadists

Thursday, 12 January 2023 jihadists   persecutions   local churches  

Bamako (Agenzia Fides) - "The situation is still blocked. We continue to pray for our brothers while we hope that mediation efforts will be successful to allow the faithful to continue to live in peace", says to Fides Msgr. Jean Baptiste Tiama, Bishop of Mopti, describing the situation of the Christian community of Douna (Barapireli parish) threatened by jihadists.
"For some time the village of Douna has been threatened by jihadists. On January 4, they returned to the village again to force the two Christian communities to close the churches", says a statement of January 5 from the diocese of Mopti, sent to Fides. "It is forbidden to ring bells, play musical instruments and pray in churches. What is even more disturbing is that the jihadists are asking Christians to practice the Muslim religion", underlines the diocese of Mopti which invites the faithful "to persevere in prayer to overcome the forces of evil".
Precisely in the Mopti region, in central Mali, fourteen Malian soldiers were killed and eleven injured on January 9 in clashes with jihadists. For its part, the Malian army claims to have neutralized "31 terrorists".
Mali has been suffering from the violence committed by various groups of jihadists since 2012. The center of the Country is one of the hotbeds of violence that has spread to neighboring countries, Burkina Faso and Niger, and is spreading towards the south. 10 years ago on January 11, 2013, France launched Operation Serval to push away the jihadist offensive that threatened to overwhelm the country. Now the situation has changed. The military coup plotters who seized power in a putsch in 2020, followed by a second coup in 2021, have distanced themselves from former French ally and its partners, and have turned militarily and politically towards the Russians.
The junta launched an operation focused on central Mali in late 2021, saying it had forced fleeing jihadists to flee. However, a report by its UN Secretary-General, presented to the Security Council on January 9, says that security conditions continued to deteriorate between June and December 2022 in the center of the Sahel, "particularly in Burkina Faso and Mali". "In Mali, after the departure of international forces, armed groups advanced in the east of the country, taking control of vast border areas with Niger", reads the report. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 12/1/2023 )