Results tagged “Mali”
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French Foreign Minister LeDrian announced the end of Operation Serval in Mali and the commencement of a new counterterrorism operation called Operation Barkhan, which will see 1,000 French soldiers left in Mali and 3,000 more deployed to Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad. The operation, which will be based in Chad and employ drones, helicopters, fighter jets, transport planes, and armored vehicles, aims to prevent the Sahel region from becoming "a highway ... where jihadist groups between Libya and the Atlantic Ocean can rebuild themselves."
A MINUSMA force vehicle carrying Burkinabe peacekeeping troops was hit by a roadside bomb near Goundam, about 30 km west of Timbuktu; one peacekeeper was killed and six others injured, three of them seriously. On June 25, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Mali for another 12 months, but downsized the maximum military personnel level from 7,137 to 5,437. The current civilian, police, and military force is now at about 75% of the target levels. The UN Secretary-General said security in northern Mali has deteriorated since the beginning of 2014.
A suicide car bombing near the entrance to a camp in Aguelhok that houses MINUSMA and Malian forces killed at least four Chadian soldiers and injured 10 more troops, including four Malians. It is the first major attack in the Kidal area since a ceasefire was reached between the government and three separatist groups in May. Yesterday the three groups - the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA), and the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) - pledged support for the reconciliation process and issued an ultimatum to other armed groups in the region (including Ansar Dine, MUJAO, and a dissident separatist group led by Ibrahim Ag Mohamed Assaleh) to join the three Azawad groups within 30 days.
Nigeria has withdrawn all of its peacekeeping troops from Mali due to the challenges of battling the Boko Haram insurgency at home.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.