Results tagged “Mali”
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Authorities have discovered a mass grave in Diago, just north of Bamako, containing the bodies of 21 people. An investigation is proceeding to determine whether they are the remains of 21 soldiers who disappeared during a failed counter-coup in April 2012.
After a flareup of violence in Kidal, the separatist Tuareg Azawad group, consisting of the MNLA, MAA, and HCUA, ended its ceasefire with the government. The International Red Cross said conflict in the north is depriving most Malians in the area of access to health services. Cheibani Ould Hama, a Malian member of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb linked to the murder of an American official in Niger in 2000, was arrested along with three other persons in northern Mali by French forces.
Local security forces detained General Amadou Sanogo, the leader of the March 2012 military coup, for questioning. He is suspected of financial crimes and involvement in the deaths and disappearances of soldiers who resisted the coup last year.
A senior security official warned that Ansar Dine has reemerged as a threat and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb leader Abdelkrim al-Targui "is closing in too." Kidal residents complained of the continuing presence of extremist groups. The Malian military is trying to combat sleeper cells in areas such as Gao and Timbuktu. The reconciliation minister for the north said that "rebels, terrorists, and drug traffickers switch between Ansar Dine, MUJAO, and AQIM." The MINUMSA force in Mali is still at less than half its planned 12,600-man strength.
Turnout was low in parliamentary elections today. Demonstrators protested in Kidal against the elections, and gunmen stole ballot boxes and election materials in Goundam and Lere, near Timbuktu. Tuareg separatists smashed car windows in Gao, and destroyed ballot boxes in Tataye. Sixteen people were killed in clashes between ethnic Peul and separatist Tuareg near the Niger border.
French special forces in Tessalit killed Hacene Ould Khalill, a.k.a. Jouleibib, a Mauritanian national who served as deputy head of Mokhtar Belmokhtar's Those Who Sign in Blood Brigade, which merged with MUJAO in August. Suspected MUJAO militants fired rockets into Gao. At least three French soldiers in an armored vehicle were wounded in an explosion outside Kidal.
French and Malian authorities are searching for Baye Ag Bakabo, a Tuareg rebel and drug trafficker linked to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, who is suspected in the murders of two French journalists in Kidal. No arrests have been made so far. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said militants from the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram have trained in Mali. Libya's foreign minister said al Qaeda elements maintain links with organized crime networks, which presents border security challenges.
The separatist Tuareg MNLA claimed that the Malian army violated a ceasefire by arresting several civilians and executing three of them. The Malian army disputed the accusation, saying that after armed bandits attacked a military patrol, three bandits were killed and four were wounded. A witness said the patrol was ambushed while it was responding to another MNLA attack.
Malian officials believe that the recent killing of two French journalists in Kidal was probably a botched operation by a terrorist linked to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which took credit for the murders. Baye Ag Bakabo, a prime suspect, is an ethnic Tuareg and former member of the AQIM brigade commanded by Abdelkrim al-Targui. Experts say Targui is a relative of Ansar Dine leader Ag Ghali.
A Mauritanian news agency said it had received a claim for the recent murders of two French journalists in Mali from fighters linked to Abdelkrim al-Targui, a senior commander of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Among the 35 suspects questioned so far about the crime are four "commandos," two of whom are linked to AQIM and to Targui, who also was involved in the recent release of four French hostages.
A top official in MINUSMA, the UN's peacekeeping force in Mali, warned that there is no rule of law in Kidal, armed groups have not been disarmed, and the MINUSMA force is only at half strength. The al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and its commander Iyad Ag Ghaly have resurfaced. A French officer commanding joint French and Malian forces said attacks in Gao and Tessalit last month suggest concerted action by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its allies. French forces in country will drop to about 2,000 after next month's election. Malian reporters marched in Bamako in honor of two French journalists slain last week in Kidal.
Three Tuareg and Arab rebel groups, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA), and the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA), decided to merge for negotiations with the government. French and Malian authorities have detained for questioning as many as 12 suspects in the recent kidnapping and murder of French journalists Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont in Kidal. No group has claimed the murders. Five suspects were reportedly detained at a camp for former Tuareg MNLA rebels.
Four gunmen driving a Toyota kidnapped two French journalists in Kidal who had just interviewed Ambeiry Ag Rhissa, a Kidal cultural official in the separatist Tuareg MNLA. The French government later said the two journalists have been killed. Four Frenchmen held hostage for three years by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb were released in Mali earlier this week; France denied rumors that a large ransom had been paid.
General Amadou Sanogo, who led the coup against the government of Amadou Toumani Toure in March 2012, was summoned to appear in court in Bamako to answer questions about alleged atrocities committed by troops under his command against soldiers loyal to then-president Toure. Last week Amnesty International accused Sanogo loyalists of the extrajudicial killing of mutineers at a military barracks in Bamako in September.
A joint French, UN, and Malian operation was launched to sweep Islamist militants out of three northern regions. A French military spokesman said it is the largest joint operation the three forces have undertaken so far in Mali, involving several hundred French soldiers.
Suspected Islamist militants conducted a suicide car bombing in Tessalit against a military checkpoint, killing two Chadian UN peacekeeping troops and injuring six other people. A local official said that four people had been killed by the blast, including a child. French forces wrested control of Tessalit, in northern Mali near the Algerian border, from Islamist militants in February.
The UN's Mali envoy asked the Security Council to provide more troops and equipment for the MINUSMA peacekeeping force, which faces "severe" challenges. Of the 12,600 troops mandated for the mission, only about 5,200 are on the ground. Mali's military chief for the northern region said sleeper cells exist in the area with jihadists from Sudan, Boko Haram, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). France plans to reduce its troop level in Mali from 3,200 to about 1,000; the US is not providing assistance to the Malian army but has provided logistical help to French forces in Mali.
Suspected Islamists blew up a bridge on the only road connecting Gao to Niger, wounding two civilians. The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) claimed both the attack on the bridge and yesterday's shelling of Gao, and warned of further attacks.
Islamist shelling from Bourem wounded at least one Malian soldier and six other people in Gao, in the first such attack in the city in months. French and Malian troops headed out to look for the source of the attack. The Tuareg MNLA and two other groups that had pulled out of a peace deal returned to the accord on Oct. 5 after the government released nearly two dozen prisoners.
The government freed 23 rebels linked to the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, which pulled out of a peace accord last week. A group called the Imaratou Sahra battalion of al Qaeda of Jihad in the Islamic Maghreb claimed credit for the Sept. 28 double suicide bombing in Timbuktu; the MNLA blamed AQIM and MUJAO for the attack. The Red Cross is delivering food aid to half a million people in Kidal, Gao, Timbuktu, and Mopti.