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Africa North
Suspected jihadists kill over 30 Tuaregs in Mali
More on this report from yesterday, but we still do not know which jihadis dunnit.
[DAWN] Suspected jihadists killed more than 30 Tuaregs, including women and kiddies, on Mali’s northeastern border with Niger, several sources said on Saturday as the second such attack in two days stoked fears of widespread unrest.

The former Tuareg rebel group MSA and tribal leaders said the massacre occurred on Friday, a day after another attack by button men on cycle of violences had left 12 people dead outside the town of Anderamboukane, which is also in the same area.

"There have been 43 deaths in two days, all civilians, from the same community," tribal leader Sidigui Ag Hamadi told AFP from the regional capital Menaka.

"Our fighters are destroying their bases and wiping them out. They are targeting innocent civilians," he added, saying he viewed the bloodletting as a reprisal for attacks on jihadists by armed Tuareg groups.

The group urged the governments of Mali and Niger to take steps to ensure that "an immediate end is put to these abominable crimes" and added that it would "not give in to any intimidation."

Two weeks ago, the UN’s MINUSMA peacekeeping operation said they had received "very serious" information that "summary executions of at least 95 people" had occurred during anti-jihadist operations in the northeastern Menaka region carried out by "a coalition of gangs" including MSA and Gatia.


Africa North
Suspected jihadists kill 40 Tuaregs in north Mali: Governor
[AlAhram] Suspected jihadists killed 40 ethnic Tuaregs, including women and kiddies, in two attacks in northern Mali's Menaka region, the regional governor said on Saturday.

Menaka governor Daouda Maiga said the attacks happened in the remote desert villages of Awakassa on Friday and Anderanboucane, a day earlier.

Africa North
France says 3 jihadists killed in Mali clash
[AlAhram] A clash between French soldiers and an armed jihadist group in northwest Mali left three "terrorists" dead, Gay Paree said Thursday, while local media reported injuries among French special forces.
Mali plays host, in their most recent incarnations, to Al Qaeda affiliate Jama'a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Moslemin (JNIM) and ISIS affiliate Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).
The three were "neutralised" in a confrontation near the village of Goudam, west of Timbuktu, on April 21, French army front man Colonel William Thomas told a presser.

"We have no comment to make on any possible French casualties," he added.

French Gazelle helicopters were deployed to support troops.

Local media reported that French special forces operating in the Sahel were maimed in the clash.

Around 4,000 French troops are deployed under Operation Barkhane alongside the UN's 12,000-member MINUSMA peacekeeping operation in Mali.

The unrest in Mali, a former French colony, stems from a 2012 Tuareg separatist uprising against the state.

Islamist Lions of Islam linked to al-Qaeda took control of the desert north, but were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.

But turbans remain active, linked to drug, arms and migrant trafficking in the vast Sahel region
... North Africa's answer to the Pak tribal areas...

Africa North
15 militants killed in anti-jihadist operation in Mali: army
[AlAhram] Fifteen turbans have been killed in an anti-jihadist operation in central Mali, the Malian army said on Saturday, adding that one soldier died and two others were maimed.

The "terrorists" were "neutralised, their weapons recovered and their cycle of violences destroyed" during Friday's mission in the Tina forest in the Mopti region, the army said in a statement.

The army "suffered one death and two injuries".

Mali has seen a resurgence of violence in recent weeks. Last Sunday a UN base in the historic city of Timbuktu was attacked by rocket fire and boom-mobiles, killing one UN peacekeeper and wounding seven others.

Last month the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) expressed "deep concern" over an increase in "serious violations and human rights
One man's rights are another man's existential threat.
abuses against civilians, including cases of summary execution" in the centre of the country, where jihadist groups are particularly active.

MINUSMA, which has 12,000 peacekeepers in Mali, said it had recorded at least 85 major violent incidents and armed confrontations that resulted in at least 180 civilian victims since the beginning of the year.

The unrest in the former French colony stems from a 2012 Tuareg separatist uprising against the state, which was exploited by jihadists in order to take over key cities in the north.

Although French forces succeeded in removing al-Qaeda-linked groups from places such as Timbuktu, the groups have morphed into more nimble formations operating in rural areas, sometimes winning over local populations by providing basic services and protection from bandidos.

The insurgency has gradually spread to the country's centre, where local grievances are sometimes exploited by radical Islamists in a region awash with guns.

In June 2015, Mali's government signed a peace agreement with some gangs, but other jihadists remain active, and large tracts of the country remain lawless.

Nomadic Fulani people and farmers from the Dogon ethnic group have also engaged in tit-for-tat violence, resulting in deaths.

Africa North
Militant accused of demolishing Timbuktu’s shrines faces crimes court
[DAWN] A Malian holy warrior appeared for the first time before an international war crimes judge on Wednesday, accused of demolishing Timbuktu’s fabled shrines, as well as rape, torture and sex slavery.

Speaking in Arabic, Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohammed Ag Mahmoud confirmed his identity and date of birth at a brief hearing at the International Criminal Court, and said he had been informed of the charges against him and his rights.

Hassan was captured over the weekend by Malian authorities and swiftly transferred to the Netherlands late Saturday.

Prosecutors allege the 40-year-old "committed crimes against humanity and war crimes in Timbuktu, Mali, between April 2012 and January 2013." A member of the Ansar Dine
...a mainly Tuareg group that controlled areas of Mali's northern desert together with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and MUJAO in early 2012...
holy warrior group, Hassan was the "de facto chief of the Islamic police" in Timbuktu, the ICC said.

The gangs which swept across the remote northern Mali region in 2012 seizing control of the UNESCO-protected site "imposed their vision of religion, through terror, on a local population who didn’t adhere to it," alleges Hassan’s arrest warrant, unveiled at the weekend by the court.

Hassan had about 40 Islamic police under his control and "played a leading role in committing crimes, as well as religious and sexist persecution".

"All infractions" of the strict Islamic laws were "punished by whippings, torture during detention and the destruction of sites devoted to religious practises," the warrant says, adding that Hassan himself took part in the lashings.

He also allegedly "participated in the policy of forced marriages which victimised the female inhabitants of Timbuktu and led to repeated rapes and the sexual enslavement of women and girls," the court added.

Dubbed "The City of 333 saints", Timbuktu’s holy shrines were built in the 15th and 16th centuries when it was revered as a centre of Islamic learning and a spiritual hub.


Africa North
 Tuareg militias again clash with Islamic State-loyal militants in northern Mali
The Imghad and Allies Self Defense Movement (GATIA) and the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA) have again reported its fighters have battled with militants loyal to the Islamic State led by Abu Walid al Sahrawi.

According to the joint statement released by the groups, one of their joint patrols engaged in combat with the Islamic State-loyal militants in the Tinzouragan area of Mali’s northern Gao region yesterday. The locale sits close to In-Delimane and the Nigerien borders, an area where the so-called Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) operates. The Tuareg alliance reported that five jihadists were killed, including a high level commander named as Djibo Hamma. Other militants and vehicles were reported captured.

At the same time, France’s Operation Barkhane reported its forces also clashed with suspected jihadist militants near In-Delimane on March 6. It is unclear which group the French troops battled with. While ISGS operates in that area, al Qaeda’s Group for Support of Islam and Muslims have claimed attacks on French troops in that area as well.

Africa Subsaharan
JNIM confirms deaths of co-founder, senior leaders in French raids
[LongWarJournal] In its official claim of responsibility for Friday’s terrorist attacks in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, al Qaeda’s Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) also confirmed the deaths of several of its senior leaders.

According to the jihadist group, the assault on the French embassy in Ouagadougou was in response to the French raids on Feb. 14 between Boughessa, Mali, and Tinzaouatene, Algeria. In that operation, French forces conducted three simultaneous raids, accompanied with airstrikes, which killed or captured over 20 jihadist fighters. JNIM confirmed the death of six of its leaders, including its co-founder, Hasan al Ansari.

Ansari, along with Mokhtar Belmokhtar and Ahmed el Tilemsi, was also a co-founder of Al Murabitoon. He would later become the second-in-command of the al Qaeda-loyal group, before becoming a co-founder and senior leader within JNIM. In the photo above, Ansari can be seen sitting second from the right between Iyad Ag Ghaly and Abu Abdul Rahman al Sanhaji, another Murabitoon official.

JNIM also confirmed the death of two top Ansar Dine commanders, Malik Ag Wanesnet and Abdullah Ag Oufata. Wanesnet, also known as Abu al Tayyib, was a former colonel in the Malian army before defecting to the jihadist cause and becoming a top military commander for Ansar Dine. Oufata was the former mayor of Boughessa, Mali, before he joined the Tuareg jihadist group>Tuareg jihadist group. Ansar Dine joined Murabitoon, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s Sahara branch, and Ansar Dine’s Katibat Macina (also known as the Macina Liberation Front) to form JNIM last year.

Africa North
Algeria lawmaker under fire over 'racist' attack on Berber language
[ALARABY.CO.UK] An Algerian member of parliament has come under fire after she attacked the language of the Berber minority in the North African country with comments that have been widely condemned as racist.

Naima Salhi said in a controversial video posted on social media last month that she would "kill" her young daughter if she spoke Berber.

"My young daughter was in a school where the majority of students are Kabyles so she started to learn their language... I told her if she speaks a word of the language I would kill her," Salhi said.

Salhi explained her divisive
...politicians call things divisive when when the other side sez something they don't like. Their own statements are never divisive, they're principled...
comments on local Ennahar TV on Tuesday, saying: "I refuse to let my daughter speak the fabricated Frenchified Kabyle language taught in the Zionist Berber Academy in Gay Paree."
French and Zionist? Worse than that cannot exist!
"I would kill her if she spoke it... meaning I would severely punish her," she added.

Salhi, who is the head of the Islamist Justice party, has claimed the Berber Tamazight language is a "dead non-language" that lacks the terminology to be used in science and the public sphere.

The Kabyle, who are the largest Berber minority in Algeria, have long called for greater rights with some separatist movements even calling for an independent Berber state.

Salhi's comments have been widely slammed on social media and have led to politicians calling for her resignation.

"We have demanded that the head of parliament take action. This woman cannot be part of a parliament that represents all Algerians," member of parliament Khaled Tazaghart told Ennahar TV on Friday.

Tuareg politician Baba Ali also demanded she resigns for "attacking the culture and identity" of the Berber people, who refer to their community as Amazigh.

The controversy comes amid growing official recognition of the Amazigh people, who make up roughly a quarter of the country's total population.

The Tamazight language was first given official status in Algeria in 2002, a year after bloody riots that left 126 people dead in Kabylie.

In 2016, it became enshrined in the constitution as a state language alongside Arabic.

Last month, the country's interior ministry released its first ever official communique in Tamazight.

In December, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
... 10th president-for-life of Algeria. He was elected in 1999 and is currently on his third or fourth term. Maybe it's the fifth....
declared Amazigh New Year's a national holiday and called for the establishment of an official authority to regulate the Tamazight language.

The move came after protests in Berber communities over politicians blocking funding for the teaching of the Tamazight language in government schools.

Africa North
Tribal retribution killings in Sebha raise tensions
Tunis, 1 February 2018:

Sebha remains tense after fighting between the Awlad Sulieman and Tebu intensified last night following tit-for-tat killings.

The town is now largely quiet, though occasional shots can still be heard locals told the Libya Herald. Last night saw heavy artillery strikes and extensive gun battles between the two sides, though exact casualty figures are unclear at this stage.

Fighting near the historic Fort, seriously damaged in early 2014, is particularly fierce and has often been a focal point for conflict in the past.

Violence broke out on Sunday when a figure inside a blacked out car belonging to a member of the Awlad Sulieman opened fire on three Tebu at a café. Ahmed Adel was killed and his two friends injured.

The attack took place in Nassirya district in the north of Sebha, an ethnically mixed neighbourhood in comparison to other parts of the town.

Retribution was swift with Tebu brigades killing an army officer and policeman, both understood to be Awlad Suieman.

Events over the recent days underline how the Rome peace deal agreed between the two sides and the Tuareg remains very fragile. Observers have not been optimistic the accord would hold and their cynicism appears well founded.

Presidency Council Deputy Abdulsalam Kajman has often had to step in and mediate when tensions rises between the various groups.

Meanwhile, four members of ISIS were killed and a civilian injured yesterday in Brak Al-Shatti. The ISIS fighters were looking for food on the outskirts of the town but came under attack from locals supportive of the Libyan National Army.


Africa North
Mali: Another Record Breaking Year
[StrategyPage] The UN is threatening sanctions against individuals and groups in Mali if the government and local leaders in northern Mali don’t implement the 2015 peace treaty that ended the war in the north, but has not yet brought peace. To placate the UN and major donors the government has agreed to work things out with the Tuaregs by the end of March. But promises like that have been made before and always broken. The federal government continues to tolerate corrupt practices which includes stealing a lot of the aid money meant for the north and sending officials up there who demand bribes to get anything done. The UN also insists that presidential elections be held on schedule in July and would prefer that the incumbent kept it legal and not another effort to become president-for-life. The president is also under pressure from the UN to a December 2017 order for police to shut down any unauthorized protests. That meant all protests against government corruption and mismanagement were to be attacked and that has created more popular anger, especially from the suppliers of all that foreign aid.
A good background of current Mali situation at the link

Africa North
28 killed in 2 separate attacks in Mali
[AA.TR] At least 28 people, including two Malian soldiers, were killed and several others injured in two separate attacks in Central Mali on Thursday, according to Malian media Friday.

In the first incident, 26 people, including women and kiddies were killed when a vehicle stepped over a landmine in the central part of the country.

The vehicle had left 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 will leave office feet first, one way or the other...
and struck a landmine about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from Boni city in Mali.

No group grabbed credit for the attack.

Separately, in Youwarou, also in Central Mali's Mopti region, Malian armed forces killed seven terrorists, according to a statement from the military.

Two Malian soldiers were also killed in the operation, the statement added.

In 2012, a Tuareg rebellion opened the door for al-Qaeda-linked murderous Moslems to take over the northern half of the country. They were mostly expelled by a French-led operation launched a year later but swathes of the country remain subject to regular attacks that have spread southwards.

In 2015, a peace deal was signed between the government and some bully boy groups.

Political and community disputes continue to fuel tensions in Mali, thus undermining the implementation of the peace agreement.


Africa North
Islamic State affiliate claims Mali attack that injured 3 French soldiers
[EN.RFI.FR] An affiliate of the Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
(IS) gang has grabbed credit for attacks in the Sahel region
... North Africa's answer to the Pak tribal areas...
, including one that injured three French soldiers in Mali on Thursday and an attack in October that killed four US soldiers and three from Niger.

One of the three French soldiers was maimed and flown to La Belle France for treatment after a suicide kaboom on a convoy travelling between Menaka and Indelamine regions.

The attack took place on Thursday, the fifth anniversary of the start of La Belle France's military intervention against armed Islamists and Tuareg separatists in Mali.

"A vehicle approached the convoy and went kaboom! near a VAB [armoured vehicle]," French army front man Patrick Steiger told the AFP news agency.

Three Malian soldiers were also injured on Thursday in an ambush in the northern town of Hombori and a policeman was kidnapped and a cop shoppe looted and set on fire in the north-western town of Lere, the Malian army said.


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