Results tagged “Mali”
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Nigeria has withdrawn all of its peacekeeping troops from Mali due to the challenges of battling the Boko Haram insurgency at home. On June 2, the UN added three related Mali-based terrorist groups to its al Qaeda sanctions list: al Mouakaoune, al Moulathamoun, and al Mourabitoun. The latter, led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, was formed in 2013 by a merger of al Moulathamoun and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), and is associated with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The first two groups were formed by Belmokhtar in 2012, and the US designated all three as terrorist entities in December 2013. A video showing French hostage Serge Lazarevic pleading for his release from his AQIM captors was published last week.
Three Tuareg separatist groups, including the MNLA, accepted the offer of a ceasefire, but a spokesman said rebel forces would remain in their positions. The MNLA reportedly controls at least seven towns in the north as well as Kidal, and its forces are also said to be near Gao. The government has alleged that the Tuareg fighters are backed by al Qaeda-linked forces.
The separatist Tuareg MNLA beat back an attempt by the Malian army to recapture Kidal, and claimed to have taken the town of Menaka as well. Members of Islamist groups are also said to have participated in the fighting, in which two MNLA fighters and at least a dozen Malian soldiers are said to have been killed. Both the Malian government and the UN called for a ceasefire. France said it would deploy an additional 100 troops in Mali.
France decided to postpone the transfer of Operation Serval to a Sahel-Sahara French force in other locations after the resurgence of violence in northern Mali. Mali's foreign minister asked the UN Security Council to create a commission to investigate the recent attack in Kidal. The Malian army has retaken strategic points in Kidal but has not recovered a military camp and the governor's compound from the insurgents.
Malian troops were deployed to retake Kidal from militants who killed eight soldiers, kidnapped 30 civil servants, and seized government offices two days ago. Prime Minister Mara said yesterday that terrorists have "declared war on Mali." Defense Minister Maiga said the militants are members of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) who are "supported by members of terrorist groups." A MINUSMA spokesperson said the 30 kidnapped civil servants were released today. The US warned that Mali might slip back into conflict; France said it will not intervene in the separatist issue and was only in Mali to fight "armed terrorist groups."
Tuareg MNLA separatists killed six government officials and two civilians during an assault on the regional governor's office in Kidal. The militants also kidnapped 30 civil servants. The regional governor said 23 Malian soldiers were wounded in clashes with the MNLA that broke out shortly before Prime Minister Mara's visit to the city. The defense ministry claimed that 28 of the attackers were killed.
Three UN peacekeepers were wounded when their vehicle hit a land mine near their base in Kidal. A French soldier was killed in northern Mali by an IED on May 7. Sources said that Abu Bakr Al-Nasr, called "the Egyptian," a logistician and heavy weapons specialist who was a top aide to Mokhtar Belmokhtar, was killed by French forces in Mali in early April.
Military sources said French special forces killed Haroun Said, a deputy of Ansar Dine head Iyad Ag Ghaly, during operations in north Mali last week in which a number of insurgents, including two child soldiers, were arrested. One report said he and two of his children were killed by an airstrike on his vehicle. Armed groups in northern Mali, including the MNLA, HCUA, CPA, and MAA, rejected the government's latest reconciliation offer.
The UN's Special Representative for Mali, who heads the MINUSMA peacekeeping force, warned that the "window of opportunity" for peace in Mali may close, given the resumption of terrorist activities in the north, and MINUSMA's low level of force generation and lack of military transport helicopters. A security source said that the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, which recently claimed the killing of a French hostage, is returning to the Gao region.
A spokesman for the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) said that French national Gilberto Rodrigues Leal, held hostage in Mali since late 2012, has died. Security sources said French forces have killed 30 Islamist militants in northern Mali in April; reportedly among them is Abou Ourabe, an Algerian commander in al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. His death has not been confirmed.
In a military operation today, French troops freed five aid workers in Timbuktu who were kidnapped in February in the north by al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants affiliated with the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). The five, all Malian nationals, are said to be in good health.
President Keita warned that Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the wanted jihadist leader who is said to have set up operations in Libya, constitutes a threat to peace in the region. Keita also said Mali is willing to enter reconciliation talks with rebel groups such as the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) so long as there is "total and unequivocal preservation of our territorial integrity." A French soldier was slightly wounded when a his vehicle encountered a roadside bomb in Tessalit on April 12. A Chadian military official in Kidal said al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has laid a number of mines in the area.
Islamists from Al Mourabitoun, a group formed by the merger last year of Mokhtar Belmokhtar's group and MUJAO, released a video showing an Algerian diplomat who has been held hostage since April 2012. Al Mourabitoun also denied reports that wanted terrorist Oumar Ould Hamaha was killed last month in Mali by a French airstrike.