More Suicide Bombs Hit Mali after Battle that Kills 20 Islamists
[An Nahar] Five people, including two jacket wallahs, died Friday in boom-mobileings in northern Mali, a day after fierce urban battles between French-led forces and Islamists left up to 20 snuffies dead, officials said.

Two kamikaze vehicles targeting civilians and members of the ethnic Tuareg rebel group the MNLA went kaboom! near the town of Tessalit, killing three and wounding several others, a security source said.

A front man for the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) in Burkina Faso
...The country in west Africa that they put where Upper Volta used to be. Its capital is Oogadooga, or something like that. Its president is currently Blaise Compaoré, who took office in 1987 and may be in the process of being chased out now...
confirmed the report. Mohammed Ibrahim Ag Asseleh said "the two kamikazes were killed and in our ranks there were three dead and four seriously maimed".

The blasts came after al-Qaeda-linked rebels claimed a car kaboom on Thursday near a camp occupied by French and Chadian troops in the city of Kidal, local officials said.

At least two civilians were reported maimed in that attack. The vehicle, apparently driven by a suicide bomber, was targeting the camp but went kaboom! before it reached it, killing the driver, an official in Kidal governor's office said.

La Belle France sent in its troops in January to help the Malian army oust Islamist bully boyz who last year captured the desert north of the country. Thousands of soldiers from African countries have also deployed since then.

The French-led forces are increasingly facing guerrilla-style tactics after initially meeting little resistance in their drive to oust Islamists from the main northern centers of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu.

The Tuareg MNLA blamed Friday's car kabooms on the al-Qaeda-linked Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), one of Mali's main Islamist groups.

The MUJAO made no comment on the latest attacks, but on Thursday it told Agence La Belle France Presse that it was responsible for the boom-mobile in Kidal.

"More kabooms will happen across our territory," MUJAO front man Abu Walid Sahraoui warned.

He also said the group had sent fighters to Gao, 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) from the capital Bamako, where battles erupted overnight Wednesday after about 40 Islamists infiltrated the city.

The Islamists briefly occupied the courthouse and the city hall but French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Malian and French forces backed by French helicopters repelled the attack on Thursday.

Le Drian said initially that five Islamists were killed in the fierce street fighting, but on Friday the French defense ministry between 15 and 20 had died.

Sporadic gunfire was heard on Friday morning in Gao, an AFP journalist there said.

MUJAO front man Sahraoui said the rebels were determined to recapture the city: "Our troops have been ordered to attack. If the enemy is stronger, we'll pull back only to return stronger, until we liberate Gao."

Mali's Prime Minister Diango Cissoko said this week thon the lam-scale military operations in the north were winding down, but sporadic fighting has continued.

A French legionnaire was killed on Tuesday in the mountainous Ifoghas region. The French military said that their "Panthere 4" operation in the Ifoghas had already left 30 Islamists dead since the start of the week.

Ethnic Tuaregs in northern Mali, who have long sought greater autonomy, initially backed the rebellion but later fell out with the Islamists and regained control of Kidal before the arrival of French troops.

About 1,800 Chadian troops were then deployed in the city as part of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA), a military force organized by west African countries which La Belle France hopes will eventually become a U.N. stabilization force.

Asked whether it was coordinating its efforts with the Tuaregs of the MNLA, the French military said Thursday it was working with "groups that have the same objective" as La Belle France.

In Nouakchott, the capital of neighboring Mauritania, dozens of Malian Arabs demonstrated Thursday to denounce abuses they said had been committed by Malian troops against light-skinned Malians, particularly Arabs, in the north.

Human Rights Watch
... dedicated to bitching about human rights violations around the world...
has urged Bamako to act.

"The Malian government should urgently investigate and prosecute soldiers responsible for torture, summary executions, and enforced disappearances of suspected Salafist tough guys and alleged collaborators," it said.

Posted by: Fred 2013-02-23