Results tagged “Mali”
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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.
A fire destroyed Bamako's main market, burning down 2,000 shops yesterday. On March 20, the French military claimed to have killed about 40 Islamist militants, including some senior commanders, in Mali in recent weeks.
French and Malian sources reported that wanted MUJAO commander Abou Dardar surrendered on March 15 to French troops, who briefly interrogated him and then turned him over to Malian security forces. He had reportedly taken refuge in Gao after the French military invention began in early 2013. Four Chadian soldiers in the MINUSMA force were injured by a land mine in northern Mali.
Recent French military operations have killed a number of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb fighters, including Redouan Abou el Achbal a.k.a. Aboubakr Benabdellah, an Algerian who was a top operative in Timbuktu and Kidal; and Mauritanians Oumar Ould Mohamed Ghoulam a.k.a. Al Ghallawi and Mohamedou Khoubeib, who were killed in Timbuktu. A Malian military source said Libyan Islamists have set up two bases in Mali's northeast. The UN estimates that its peacekeeping mission in Mali will reach 80 percent of its authorized strength this month and full strength by midyear. Only of half of the authorized 12,640 troops and police are currently in place.
French and Malian forces killed 10 terrorists from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb yesterday during an operation in the Amettetaï valley of the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains. The militants were discovered by a Reaper drone. The terrorists, who had rocket launchers, may have been among those who fired at French helicopters near Tessalit on Feb. 20.
Last night in Kidal, a sniper fired at police on a regular patrol, and an MNLA member was wounded allegedly by two jihadists on a motorcycle who fired at both the patrol and the MNLA; the MNLA blamed security forces for the incident. The al Murabitoon Brigade, a merger of Mokhtar Belmokhtar's forces and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), claimed a Feb. 17 attack against French forces at the airport in Timbuktu, a similar rocket attack against a base in Gao, and the kidnapping of Red Cross workers in northern Mali.
Near the Niger border, militants from the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa clashed with ethnic Tuaregs loyal to the government; 17 civilians and 13 militants were killed. Last week 31 Tuaregs were killed in a similar clash.
A spokesman for the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) claimed that the group is holding five Red Cross workers kidnapped two days ago on the road between Kidal and Gao. A group of armed MUJAO members stormed into the town of Djebock near Gao yesterday looking for a Tuareg leader, but left empty-handed as he was not there.
The interior security minister said the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa was responsible for the killing of 31 Tuaregs on Feb. 7 in an incident initially reported by the UN mission as a clash between Peul and Tebu tribesmen. President Keita recently rejected allegations that the Malian government has used al Qaeda-linked groups to fight Tuareg separatists.
Armed Peul tribesmen killed at least 30 Tuaregs in Tamkoutat, north of Gao, in an apparent revenge attack for a kidnapping. The UN is appealing for additional aid for Mali, where 800,000 people currently are suffering from a severe food shortage and security remains fragile.
A group called the "al-Sahel Media Center" announced its creation, saying it will serve as the "podium of jihad and the mujahideen in Azawad and Mali." ECOWAS and the African Union are trying to get help from the UN and the European Union so that a rapid response standby force with "lift capacity" can be formed. Nearly two years after Islamists seized much of northern Mali, there are still 217,811 displaced persons in the country and another 167,000 in refugee camps in neighboring countries.
In an operation north of Timbuktu that involved aircraft and over 100 troops, French forces killed 11 suspected Islamist militants and seized large quantities of weapons and ammunition, as well as equipment, including mobile phones. The commander of Malian military forces in the region said al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa are operating in the Ifoghas mountains; patrols are currently underway in the area.
French forces launched two nighttime raids in northern Mali against Islamist fighters linked to the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and Mokhtar Belmokhtar's Those Who Sign in Blood Brigade; the two groups united in August to form the al-Murabitoon Brigade. Over 100 French troops took part in the recent operations near Timbuktu and in the Ifhogas mountains. The UN Security Council today urged member states to support the full deployment of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, which is currently at less than half strength, and warned that terrorists have regrouped in Mali and regained the ability to operate.
The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali said five of its troops were injured when their vehicle ran over a land mine 20 miles outside of Kidal. A 395-member contingent of Chinese troops has arrived in Mali to join the UN mission.
Security forces in Timbuktu have arrested Houka Houka Ag Alfousseyni, who served as an Islamic judge for Ansar Dine in the area. The UN's Mali envoy warned that security in the country remains precarious, evidenced by an upswing in terrorist attacks in late 2013. The UN mission in Mali is currently at only half of the planned 11,200 troops, and less than a quarter of its police element is in place.
The French air force has performed its first operational flight using an A400M tactical transport, delivering 22 tonnes of supplies for Operation Serval in northern Mali. On the same flight was French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who warned that although Mali was almost secure, continued vigilance was needed. He said France would continue to back up Malian and MINUSMA forces "for as long as it takes" and that "we are all preparing to move towards a regional approach" as "the threat of destabilization is everywhere." He plans to return on Jan. 20 to sign a military accord between France and Mali.
The UN said French and Chadian troops have destroyed almost six tonnes of explosives and weapons that they found recently in two caches located about 95 miles southwest of Tessalit. In September nearly a tonne of explosives was found near Anefis.
The government has filed treason charges against former President Amadou Toumani, who was ousted by a military coup in April 2013. He is accused of "naming incompetent officers and soldiers, whose patriotism was questionable, to high-level posts." The Defense Ministry recently announced the arrest of Aliou Mahamar Toure, the brutal former chief of Islamic Police in Gao; he was reportedly detained while driving a scooter near Bourem.