Sky Mali, the sole commercial airline providing access to Timbuktu in Mali’s interior, has announced the cancellation of its flights to the city due to escalating insecurity.
This development further isolates Timbuktu, which has been enduring a month-long blockade imposed by Islamist militants.
The blockade, orchestrated by a local al Qaeda affiliate, has cut off crucial access by road and river, leading to shortages of food and humanitarian aid in the UNESCO World Heritage site located on the fringes of the Sahara desert.
Recent reports also indicate shell fire near the city’s airport, adding to the perilous situation.
Timbuktu has faced ongoing violence since French forces liberated it from militants in 2013, following an uprising.
The European Union has raised concerns about the blockade extending to other localities in the Timbuktu region, highlighting the severe consequences for civilians who lack access to essential supplies and services.
Insecurity in Mali has intensified over the past year, particularly after the country’s military leaders expelled French troops, called for the withdrawal of United Nations peacekeepers, and formed alliances with Russian private military contractors from the Wagner Group.
Al Qaeda-linked groups continue to launch attacks, including recent suicide bombings on military bases, further destabilizing the region.