More than 1,200 killed in Mali last year, says report

A political party in Mali that monitors security says more than 1,200 people died in violence last year.

Tiebile Drame, head of the Parena party, released the 2018 figures Thursday adding that among the dead were 697 civilians, 85 Malian soldiers and four soldiers from international forces.

The spokesman for Mali's Minister of Internal Security, Amadou Sangho, disputed the figures, saying they were exaggerated although many had died.

Mali's extremist violence started in the north and since 2015 has spread to central Mali, a hotbed of tension where Mali's army is facing attacks by jihadist groups linked to al-Qaida. Insecurity since 2017 has also grown to include intercommunal conflict. Ethnic groups including the Fulani are accused of supporting extremists, while others are believed to be loyal to Mali's army.