BAMAKO – The al-Qaeda affiliated Macina Liberation Front terror organization forced more than 20 public schools to close over the last three days in two rural communities in southwestern Mali, local sources told EFE on Saturday.
The sources stated that some the faculty working at schools in the towns of Sebete and Toubacoro, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of the capital Bamako, had to leave the region for fear of reprisals.
Extremist groups are highly active in Mali’s northern and central regions, and consider public schools in the Muslim-majority country as a secular tool that teaches children an incorrect version of Islam.
In northern and central Mali, 750 schools are closed due to insecurity, affecting 300,000 school-age children, according to UNICEF.
The Macina Liberation Front is part of an al-Qaeda offshoot in the Sahel region, and was established in March 2017 as a result of the merger of four extremist organizations.
In May, the European Council approved a two-year extension for the European Union training mission in Mali working to improve security in the region, with an increased budget of €59.7 million ($71.5 million), nearly double the €33.4 million allocated for the previous period.