BAMAKO, Mali — Attacks by jihadist rebels over the weekend in the West African nation of Mali killed 132 civilians, the government said Monday.
The killings happened 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 Mali’s north to more central areas like Bankass.
Three days of national mourning, starting Tuesday, have been declared by the head of the ruling junta, Col. Assimi Goita.
In a separate incident, a United Nations peacekeeper died on Sunday from injuries sustained after an explosive device detonated, the U.N. mission to Mali said in a statement.
Since the beginning of the year, several hundred civilians have died in attacks in central and northern Mali. The attacks have been attributed to jihadist rebels as well as the Malian Army.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali began in 2013, after France led a military intervention to oust extremist rebels who had taken over cities and major towns in northern Mali the year before.
The mission now has roughly 12,000 troops in Mali and an additional 2,000 police and other officers. More than 270 peacekeepers have died in Mali, making it the U.N.’s deadliest peacekeeping mission, officials say.