Following a March 2012 coup that ousted Mali’s President Amadou Toumani Touré, a number of armed groups have carved out spheres of influence in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger in West Africa’s Sahel region. Initially occupying loosely governed territory in the north of Mali, rebel groups and coalitions like Jama’at Nusrat ul-Islam wal-Muslimeen, which formed as a coalition of Saharan Al-Qaeda branch and other local militant groups, have come into conflict with both state governments and each other over ethnic conflicts and territorial control. The resulting political violence has claimed the lives of nearly 5,000 people in the past five months, according to a report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project. We’ll hear from the project’s executive director, Clionadh Raleigh, on what’s behind the recent rise in violence.
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