GATIA and MSA troops in the northern Menaka region of Mali
The Imghad and Allies Self Defense Movement (GATIA) and the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA), two allied pro-Mali Tuareg groups, announced today its fighters clashed several times over the weekend with militants loyal to the Islamic State, led by Abu Walid al Sahrawi in northern Mali.
In its joint statement, the Tuareg alliance said its forces battled several times with the now US-designated Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) over the course of three days. The conflicts reportedly took place in the Tabarde area of Mali’s northern Menaka region.
The alliance reportedly lost three of its fighters, while three others were wounded. However, at least six ISGS fighters were reportedly killed and many others were captured by the alliance. Weapons and vehicles were also reportedly captured by the Tuaregs. Additionally, a high level ISGS commander, identified as Almahmoud Ag Akawkaw, was also captured by the militia groups.
Akawkaw is now the second high-level ISGS commander killed or captured by the militias. An ISGS commander known as Djibo Hamma was killed by GATIA-MSA troops in March.
The weekend skirmishes are just the latest in a long series of clashes and tit-for-tat killings that have been taking place in northern Mali and in Niger since February of this year. Militants loyal to ISGS have slaughtered dozens of Tuareg civilians in Daoussahak communities near the borders with Niger, while GATIA and MSA members have killed dozens of Fulani civilians. The conflicts and inter-communal massacres are occurring under the backdrop of French-supported counterterrorism operations against the jihadist group.