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Africa North
At least 12 dead in Mali attack near Nigeria
[ARABNEWS] At least 12 Tuareg civilians died Tuesday in an attack by button men in eastern Mali, a region hit by chronic unrest between local tribes and Lion of Islams, sources said.

About 200 people, many of them civilians from the Fulani and Tuareg tribes have been killed in the area this year as gunnies claiming allegiance to ISIS clash with local groups backing a French security force and the Malian army.

The attack took place 45 kilometers (28 miles) west of Menaka according to a local official, a security source, and a statement by ex-rebels in the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA).

"Armed men on cycle of violences killed at least 12 civilians," the official told AFP, citing a resident of the town who claimed to have seen the bodies.

The official, who asked to remain anonymous, added that "for now we do not know exactly who did it. I don’t know if it was the result of a dispute between tribes or a terrorist act."

The security source said some of his sources spoke of 12 dead, while others put the toll at 16.

The MSA statement said "armed individuals on cycle of violences had executed 17 civilians" from two Tuareg camps.

Mali’s unrest stems from a 2012 Tuareg separatist uprising which was exploited by holy warriors in order to take over key cities in the north.

The holy warriors were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.


Africa North
The war in the desert Why the Sahara is terror's new front line
[BBC] It is just before 15:00 on Saturday in Timbuktu and the intense desert heat has reached its peak.

Five years ago, Islamist occupiers were driven out of the historical town - but violent extremists have never been far away.

A few people are browsing through the silver jewellery and leatherwork at a small Tuareg curio market by the security checkpoint at the airport entrance.

It’s on the outskirts of town and both French troops and UN peacekeepers have set up what they call a "super-camp" there. At this sleepy time of day, people are working inside their air-conditioned containers and all that can be heard is the low hum of generators. Then, blaring sirens.
JNIM (Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin) is mentioned, the current local incarnation of Al Qaeda in North Africa.

Africa North
Tuaregs will not be used by Saif Qaddafi as a means to political goals: HoR member Hammah
[Libya Herald] The Tuareg House of Representatives member Saleh Hammah (Bakada) said that his people will not be used by Siaf al-Islam Qadaffy as a means to political ends.

Speaking today exclusively to Libya Herald by phone, Hammah, was responding to an alleged attack on the Tuareg people by Saif Qadaffy in a recording widely circulated on social media. In the audio recording purporting to be of Saif Qadaffy, Saif accused the Tuaregs, according to Hammah, of ’’treason’’ against the Libyan cause and of being in contact with ’’foreign agents’’.

Hammah is a leading representative of the Libyan Tuareg ethnic minority, being a member of the House of Representatives (HoR) and of the 2015 Skhirat negotiation committee. He does not deny his former friendship with Saif nor the allegiance of his Tuareg people with the former regime. Indeed, he openly admitted that the Tuareg had initially stood by the former regime in opposition to the NATO
...the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A cautionary tale of cost-benefit analysis....

a good lie finds more believers than a bad truth...
he now believes that there is no way back for the former regime ‐ through the use of force ‐ and sees dialogue and reconciliation as the only viable political tool for Libya’s future.


Africa North
Terrorist Ambush: Voting be hard in Mali
BAMAKO (REUTERS) - Gunmen attacked a convoy carrying election materials in central Mali, triggering a shootout in which four soldiers and eight attackers were killed, a Defence Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

The spokesman said the attack occurred late on Tuesday on the road between Nampala and Coura in the south-central region of Segou, giving no further details, and declining to say whether it was carrying ballot papers.

"The convoy was transporting some youths and election materials. There were 12 killed in total, four soldiers and eight terrorists," the spokesman said by telephone.

Mali's presidential election, the second since Tuareg rebels and allied Islamists took over the north in 2012, prompting French forces to intervene the following year to push them back, has been beset by attacks at the hands of suspected Islamist militants and allied ethnic militia.

Armed attackers succeeded in shutting down 644 polling stations on Sunday, representing about 3 percent of the total. A fifth of all polling stations suffered some kind of disruption, figures from the Ministry of Territorial Administration showed.

Jihadists have rendered almost all of north and central Mali unsafe by continually targeting foreign and local interests, taking hostages and attacking security and peacekeeping forces.

Africa North
Malians vote in presidential election amid insecurity
[PRESSTV] Malians voted on Sunday to decide whether or not to give President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita a second term, amid widespread ethnic and hard boy violence that has dramatically worsened since he came to power five years ago.

Two dozen other candidates were contesting the presidency in a largely Saharan desert nation that has been fractured by a Tuareg rebellion and hard boy militancy across its north and central zones since the last poll in 2013.

Insecurity is such that in some parts of the country the vote will simply not happen, and the European Union
...the successor to the Holy Roman Empire, only without the Hapsburgs and the nifty uniforms and the dancing...
observer mission urged the government on Saturday to publish a list of places that will be unable to vote, so as to quell suspicions by candidates of "fictitious polling stations."

Eight million voters are enrolled. Voting mostly began as scheduled at polling stations in the capital Bamako at 8 a.m. (0800 GMT). Polls close at 6 p.m. Opposition candidates include businessmen, an astrophysicist, and just one woman.

The threat of violence was on the minds of voters, which could reduce turnout in a country where only 40 percent vote on average.

A Rooters witness said it was calm in Timbuktu on Sunday after days of unrest leading up to the polls.


Africa North
Malian Forces 'Kill 11 Jihadists' in Clashes Following Ambush
[AnNahar] Malian troops killed 11 jihadists who had ambushed them in the centre of the country, in festivities that also left one soldier dead, the defence ministry said.

Armed Tuareg groups supporting the government also reported assailants executed more than 20 people on Friday in a village in the northeast.

The attacks highlighted the fragile security situation in the West African nation as it prepares to hold elections on July 29, in which President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is seeking a second term.

A army patrol was ambushed by "terrorists" on Sunday morning in a forest in the central region of Segou, the ministry said in a statement. The patrol suffered "one dead and one maimed. On the enemy side, we counted 11 dead".

In a separate incident on Friday, "gunnies" attacked the village of Tindinbawen, near the border with Niger, according to a joint statement from the Imghad and Allies Tuareg Self-Defence Force (Gatia) and the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA).

The two mainly Tuareg groups support the French and Malian forces.

The "attackers proceeded to summarily execute more than 20 people including elderly people and at the same time some members of the security post of the coalition", the statement said.

Mali's unrest stems from a 2012 ethnic Touareg separatist uprising, which was exploited by jihadists in order to take over key cities in the north. The gunnies were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013. But large stretches of the country remain outside of the control of the foreign and Malian forces, which are frequent targets of attacks, despite a peace accord signed with Tuareg leaders in 2015 aimed at isolating the jihadists.

The violence has also spilled over into both 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 Niger.

Africa North
Islamist militants attack African military base in Mali, at least six dead
[AlAhram] Islamist holy warriors armed with rockets and explosives raided the headquarters of an African military taskforce in central Mali, leaving at least six people dead on Friday, a front man for the force said.

Assailants driving a vehicle rigged with bombs attacked the compound in the town of Sevare as some exchanged gunfire with Malian troops and fought to get in, officials said.

Pictures from the scene showed the charred remains of a vehicle, a crater and the battered walls of the buildings, which are used by the G5 Sahel, a regional force created last year to root out Islamist holy warriors in West Africa's semi-arid Sahel region
... North Africa's answer to the Pak tribal areas...
A front man for the G5 force - which is made up of soldiers from Mali, Niger, 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...
, Chad and Mauritania - said two soldiers and four assailants died in the attack.

"The attackers fired rockets at the headquarters and some of them infiltrated the compound. There was an exchange of fire," defence ministry front man Boubacar Diallo told Rooters.

A U.N. source in Sevare, speaking on condition of anonymity
... for fear of being murdered...
, said that the compound was hit by a boom-mobile. Gunfire had died down by mid-afternoon, the source added.

Extremism watchdog SITE, which monitors turban activity globally, said Al Qaeda's branch in Mali had reportedly grabbed credit for the attack and described it as a suicide kaboom.

The attack comes a month before Mali's presidential election.

Violence by Islamist holy warriors has proliferated in the sparsely-populated Sahel in recent years, with groups linked to al Qaeda and 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....
using central and northern Mali as a launchpad for attacks across the region.

Western powers, including La Belle France and the United States, have provided significant funding to the G5 in a bid to beat back the jihadists. But the force has been slow to get off the ground, hobbled by delays disbursing the money and coordinating among the five countries.

The French defence ministry said in a report on Thursday that around 15 assailants were killed when a detachment of its forces, alongside Malian commandos, clashed with a group of around 20 holy warriors on June 22.

It said the clash, which required helicopter support, led to the seizure or destruction of many materials including two pickups and six cycle of violences, munitions and heavy and light weapons.

A separate U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, declined to comment on the attack on the G5 compound

Sahel anti-terror force vows to fight on after suicide kaboom on HQ

[AlAhram] A five-nation African anti-terror task force vowed Saturday to press on in its battle against jihadists, the day after a suicide attack on the outfit's headquarters in Mali killed two soldiers and a civilian.

Friday's attack by a bomber in a vehicle painted in UN colours destroyed the building's entrance wall.

It was the first attack on the headquarters of the G5 force, set up with the backing of La Belle France in 2017 to roll back jihadist gunnies and criminal groups in the vast, unstable Sahel region.

"The conditions of this force will improve," Mauritanian Foreign Minister Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said. "This shows our determination rather than an indication of any weakness."

The French and Cameroon
...a long, narrow country that fills the space between Nigeria and Chad on the northeast, CAR to the southeast. Prior to incursions by Boko Haram nothing ever happened there...
ian presidents condemned the attack and discussed the security situation in the Lake Chad area, the French leader's office said Saturday.

"This demonstrates once again the importance of the vision of the heads of state to create this force which can respond to these difficulties," the foreign minister said in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott.

The al-Qaeda-linked Support Group for Islam and Moslems, the main jihadist alliance in Africa's Sahel region, claimed the attack in a telephone call to the Mauritanian news agency al-Akhbar.

The strike in the Malian town of Sevare came shortly after Friday prayers, a military source in the G5 Sahel force told AFP.

Governor Sidi Alassane Toure said four suspects had been tossed in the calaboose
Book 'im, Mahmoud!
UN secretary general Antonio Guterres, who visited the Sevare headquarters last month, highlighted security shortcomings on several of the force's sites in Mali in a report published in May.

"Poor conditions on and around the site represent an important security threat, and are delaying the deployment of the remaining soldiers," the report said.

The strike came three days before a meeting in Nouakchott between French President Emmanuel Macron and the heads of the G5 Sahel states to discuss progress made by the force.

The G5 Sahel aims to have a total of 5,000 troops from five nations — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, but has faced funding problems. It operates alongside La Belle France's 4,000 troops in the troubled "tri-border" area where Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso meet, and alongside the UN's 12,000-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping operation in Mali.

The G5 Sahel was scheduled to be fully mobilised by mid-2018, but its deployment has faced delays, equipment worries and accusations of human rights
...which are usually open to widely divergent definitions...

On Tuesday, the UN said Malian soldiers within the force had "summarily" executed 12 civilians in a market in central Mali in May in retaliation for the death of a soldier.

La Belle France intervened militarily in Mali in 2013 to help government forces drive al-Qaeda-linked jihadists out of the north. But large tracts of the country remain lawless despite a peace accord signed with ethnic Tuareg leaders in mid-2015 aimed at isolating the jihadists. The violence has also spilled over into both Burkina Faso and Niger.

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.


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