The Russian mercenary group, Wagner, has met their match in Mali, Western Africa. Earlier this week, the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), the main jihadist alliance in the region, claimed they killed four Wagner mercenaries during an ambush in central Mali.

GSIM reportedly ambushed Wagner soldiers as they rode motorcycles in the Bandiagara region towards the mountains. Two local officials also confirmed the news to AFP.

“Four Russians were killed over the weekend by jihadists near Bandiagara,” one of the local officials, who requested anonymity, told AFP.

In addition to the locals, sources from the hospital also confirmed the death of “four Russians” where one “passed through Mopti hospital.”

GSIM, a known Al-Qaeda affiliate, is gaining traction in Western Africa with surprising speed. In just the course of three years, they were able to push out French soldiers’ advances and mitigate risks involving the Wagner Group.

“It has gained in influence and territorial power these past few months,” a high-ranking French officer told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that GSIM had become both “more combative and better structured.”

Shabab Flag
Variant of the flag used by the “Islamic State” (formerly “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) or “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS)), “Al-Shabaab”, “al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula”, “al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb” and “Boko Haram”. (Source: Unknown author/Wikimedia)

The GSIM is reportedly led by Iyad Ag Ghaly, a veteran of Tuareg militant forces.

“Based on what he has accomplished so far, continuing to expand and to exist despite the aggressive counterterrorism operations, he is among the most respected Al-Qaeda leaders currently,”Rida Lyammouri, an associate fellow at the Clingendael Institute in the Netherlands, said of Ag Ghaly.