BAMAKO, Mali – Attacks by jihadist rebels in the West African country of Mali killed 132 civilians this weekend, the government said Monday.
The killings took place when several villages near Bankass, in central Mali, were attacked, the government said in a statement. The attacks suggest that Islamic extremist violence is spreading from northern Mali to more central areas such as Bankass.
The head of the ruling junta, Colonel Assimi Goita, has declared three days of national mourning, beginning Tuesday.
In a separate incident, a UN peacekeeper died on Sunday from injuries sustained after an explosive device was detonated, the UN mission to Mali said in a statement.
Several hundred civilians have been killed in attacks in central and northern Mali since the beginning of the year. The attacks are blamed on jihadist rebels and the Malian army.
The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali began in 2013, after France led a military intervention to oust extremist rebels who had captured towns and large cities in northern Mali the previous year.
The mission now has about 12,000 troops in Mali and another 2,000 police and other officers. More than 270 peacekeepers have died in Mali, making it the deadliest UN peacekeeping mission, officials say.