A Jihadist Attack Shakes Bancoumana Village

Image for A Jihadist Attack Shakes Bancoumana Village

March 5, 2024, was an otherworldly night in the Malian community of Bancoumana. At around 12:30 a.m., the community was shaken by a sudden attack from an unknown number of jihadists (terrorists). Interestingly, no civilian houses were directly attacked. Their main target was clear — the gendarmes who sit by the roadside daily to control passing vehicles. Luckily for them, no one was on duty then, so no one got hurt. The Malian security forces, in general, are the main target of the terrorist groups because the terrorists are persistently seeking to destabilize the whole nation by first gaining control of its defense mechanism. But a place like Bancoumana was one of the least likely areas suspected of ever witnessing a jihadist attack.

When I heard gunshots that night, I first mistook them for a barrage of fireworks. But then, my perception changed quickly as the town filled with the sounds of a war zone.

Wirrrrrrrrrr . . . Click clack, Krrrrrr . . . echoed the machine guns throughout the village as loud shouts of “Allahu Akbar” polluted the air.

Through my window, I could see the reflection of a great fire in the sky coming from the direction of the gendarmes’ workstation and heavy smoke above the fire. It felt like a dream or a movie; however, the reality of the moment was clear; this was a live terrorist attack, and our lives were at stake.

Outside, in the washroom, I heard barking dogs crisscrossing the neighborhood and the whistle of a bullet flying overhead since most toilets in Mali have no roof.
After an hour or so, the terrorists ceased their hostilities and departed to an unknown destination, leaving hearts pounding with fear. After awhile, a few curious men cautiously approached the attack site. Plain-clothed gendarmes also came over to make observations. Suddenly, a curious group of young men poured onto the scene, each recounting their version of the assault. The gendarmes had enough of this and started scattering the people and commanding them to immediately leave because some of the crowd started picking up the gun cartridges of the terrorists. The security forces didn’t appreciate that.

According to the gendarmes’ report, the attackers stole one of their two motorcycles and burned the other on the spot. Bancoumana was indeed taken by storm that night.
In the morning, the gendarmes’ base became a tourist attraction as people of all ages and genders packed around to see the aftermath of the nocturnal attack. At around 8:45 a.m., three military pickup trucks from Bamako, full of armed forces, arrived and rushed northwest in search of the terrorists. No results have come from their search.

As I spoke with a former Christian radio presenter about the attack, he advised that we should refrain from discussing the event with those with whom we are not in close relationship, namely, those who are not our church members. According to him, many of these terrorists have infiltrated societies and are collecting information by associating with people and reporting to their groups. One could be talking with a jihadist, their puppet, or their correspondent without suspecting it; hence, a note of caution from him: “Don’t engage in debating jihadist issues with unbelievers.”

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this article is not written to frighten anyone or discourage people from fully engaging in God’s work in areas like Bancoumana.

Yes, they desperately want to take over the Malian government and officially declare the nation as an Islamic state. Yes, they want to install Sharia law and force every soul to become Muslim. Throughout the world, “Allahu Akbar” (“God is the Greatest”) is mainly mentioned in an open or subtle attack on Christians or the Christian faith. The Christian community has always had difficulties throughout the evangelical movement, and preaching the gospel comes at a price; the Bible and Christian history are witnesses.

The truth of salvation found in Christ alone (Acts 4:12) is inherently fraught with danger in a dark world that has rejected the true Light, Jesus Christ (John 1:9). We have always been in danger in many places, but the Lord is with us, (John 16:33; Matthew 24:9, and Matthew 10:16); these verses and many others relate to not only specific places in the world but the entire planet.

Please pray for peace and security in Bancoumana, Kangaba and Mali.

May the Lord bless you abundantly!