Tag Archives: Mali conflict

Mali – two killed in attack on tourist resort

BBC

 

Gunmen have stormed a tourist resort in Mali popular with Westerners and two people are dead, the country’s security minister has said.

“It is a jihadist attack. Malian special forces intervened and hostages have been released,” Salif Traore told AFP news agency.

“Unfortunately for the moment there are two dead, including a Franco-Gabonese.”

The attack happened at luxury resort Le Campement Kangaba, east of the capital Bamako.

The minister said four assailants had been killed by security forces.

“We have recovered the bodies of two attackers who were killed,” said Mr Traore, adding that they were “searching for the bodies of two others”.

One of them left behind a machine gun and bottles filled with “explosive substances”.

The ministry said another two people had been injured, including a civilian.

A security ministry spokesman told Reuters 32 guests had been rescued from the resort.

Malian special forces intervened, backed by UN soldiers and troops from a French counter-terrorism force.

Witness Boubacar Sangare was just outside the compound as the attack unfolded.

A picture of one of the resort's bungalowsImage copyright Lecampement.com
Image caption Mali’s government has said it suspects jihadists are behind the resort attack

“Westerners were fleeing the encampment while two plainclothes police exchanged fire with the assailants,” he said.

“There were four national police vehicles and French soldiers in armoured vehicles on the scene.”

He added that a helicopter was circling overhead.

The European Union training mission in Mali, EUTMMALI, tweeted that it was aware of the attack and was supporting Malian security forces and assessing the situation.

Earlier this month, the US embassy in Bamako had warned of “possible future attacks on Western diplomatic missions, other locations in Bamako that Westerners frequent”.

French soldiers stand around a United Nations vehicle following an attack where gunmen stormed Le Campement Kangaba in DougourakoroImage copyright Reuters
Image caption French soldiers stand around a United Nations vehicle following an attack where gunmen stormed Le Campement Kangaba in Dougourakoro

BBC correspondent Alex Duval Smith says many expats and wealthy Malians go to Kangaba at weekends, to enjoy the pools, cocktail bar, canoeing facilities, and other activities for children.

Mali has been fighting a jihadist insurgency for several years, with Islamist fighters roaming the country’s north and centre.

In November 2015, at least 20 people were killed when gunmen took guests and staff hostage at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako.

Al-Qaeda’s North African arm, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), said it was behind that siege.

A map showing Mali in Africa

Mali has been in a state of emergency since the Radisson Blu attack. It was extended for a further six months in April.

The country’s security has gradually worsened since 2013, when French forces repelled allied Islamist and Tuareg rebel fighters from parts of the north.

French troops and a 10,000-strong force of UN peacekeepers have been battling to stabilise the former French colony.

EU commits 50 million euros to West African security

Reuters

DAKAR The European Union committed 50 million euros (43.60 million pounds) on Monday to help the countries of West Africa’s Sahel region set up a multinational force to combat Islamist militant groups.

The vast, arid zone has in recent years become a breeding ground for jihadist groups – some linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State – that European nations, particularly France, fear could threaten Europe if left unchecked.

In a statement released during the visit to Mali of its foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, the European Union said its support would help the so-called G5 Sahel countries of Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania establish a regional task force.

“The stability and development of the Sahel region are crucial not only for Africa but also for Europe,” Mogherini said in the statement. “We are neighbours and what happens on one of our continents has an impact on the other.”

Last year, the Sahel nations proposed establishing special units, each composed of around 100 well-trained soldiers, which would be deployed in areas where jihadist groups are known to operate.

They would complement the efforts of regular armed forces, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali and France’s Operation Barkhane, which has around 4,000 troops deployed across the five Sahel countries.

France intervened in 2013 to drive back militants who had seized northern Mali a year earlier. However, militants continue to attack security forces and civilian in Mali and its neighbours.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who visited Mali on his first trip outside of Europe last month after his election, has reaffirmed Paris’s commitment to the region and called on Germany and other European nations to ramp up military and development aid.

(Reporting By Emma Farge; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

President Macron visits French troops in northern Mali

Al Jazeera

Macron and his Malian counterpart discussed the fight against armed groups in the West African country.

19 May 2017 14:56 GMT

President Emmanuel Macron visited French troops fighting armed groups in the West African country of Mali on Friday, during his first official visit outside Europe.

At the end of his first week in office, Macron flew into Gao, a city in Mali’s north, where political unrest and ethnic strife have raged for more than five years.

He was met by Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita with whom he held talks on the fight against “terrorism”.

He also met some of the 1,600 French soldiers stationed there, on the largest French military base outside of France.

Macron called on the Malian government to implement the 2015 peace deal, which has repeatedly faltered in the face

Mali president vows to keep fighting “terrorists”

Al Jazeera

There are 11,000 UN peacekeepers in Mali [Joe Penney/Reuters]
There are 11,000 UN peacekeepers in Mali [Joe Penney/Reuters]

Mali will keep fighting “terrorist groups” in the country until they engage in serious peace talks, the country’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has said.

Despite continued French troop deployments, a UN peacekeeping mission comprising 11,000 soldiers and years of peace talks, Mali remains beset by political unrest and ethnic strife.

Keita told Al Jazeera’s Bila Hudood (Without Limits) programme he will keep fighting as these groups remain not serious about stopping their attacks.

However, he said he is willing to extend the hand of friendship in an effort to have peace and prosperity for his people.

“While we are trying to have peace talks with them, they conduct these attacks against us,” said Keita.

UN troops use locals in Mali peacekeeping mission

Keita, Mali’s president since 2013, has indicated he would be running for a second term in 2018.

In April 2012, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (NMLA), a nomadic armed group, seized control of an area larger than the size of France before being toppled by al-Qaeda-linked groups who imposed strict interpretation of Islamic law on the local population.

In January the following year, France launched a military intervention in its former West African colony to stop the fighters’ southward offensive.

Keita said while there are no US troops in his country, his government is cooperating with the US military and sharing intelligence.

“The Malian military and the Americans are conducting joint drills every now and then and we have military officials in countries that are considered to be part of the Eastern camp,” he said.

Keita also denied claims that French troops were killing innocent civilians and prasied France as a “friend of Mali”.

“The terrorists are the ones killing the innocent people on a daily basis, not the French forces,” he said.

While saying billions had been invested in the development projects in the north of the country, Keita said his government is waging a war against corruption and bribery as well.

Source: Al Jazeera News

Mali – militants kill seven soldiers in the north

Reuters

BAMAKO Unidentified militants killed seven Malian soldiers in the north at the weekend, the defence ministry said on Monday, days after the West African country extended a state of emergency.

The strike is the second on Malian security forces in a week, bringing the total death toll to at least 15.

Militants used a car to ram an army post in the village of Almoustrat on Sunday, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of Gao, before firing rockets, the defence ministry said on state TV.

Desert fighters have regrouped since a French-led military operation in 2013 to drive them out of Mali’s northern towns which they seized the year before.

Despite ongoing French strikes on their hideouts, they have staged a series of attacks in recent months, including a suicide bombing at an army base in January which killed at least 77 people.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Less armed conflict but more political violence in Africa

Institute for Security Studies

Conflict data sources show fewer armed conflicts, but are we getting the full picture?

Political violence in Africa is rising and it is more complex than before. But it is significantly less deadly than in previous decades, according to a number of conflict data sources.

Open-source conflict data is increasingly used to supplement reporting and analysis of trends in instability in Africa. A number of recent global reports, including the OECD States of Fragility 2016: Understanding Violence, use conflict data to show changes in conflict type, actors, tactics and intensity across and within countries over time.

While Africa accounted for only 16% of the global population in 2016, more than a third of global conflict took place here last year. Leading conflict data projects such as the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) and the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) show that conflict incidents in Africa rose significantly between 2010 and 2014, but have been declining since 2015.

Levels of high-intensity conflicts and wars (where over 500 people are killed) in Africa, as measured by the Center for Systemic Peace and the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research (HIIK), are lower than during the 1990s.

Current armed conflicts in Africa are clustered in four regions: North Africa and the Sahel, West Africa, the Horn, and the Great Lakes region. ACLED reports that between 2010 and 2016, the highest number of politically violent events occurred in Somalia, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Across both UCDP and ACLED, in 2015 conflict killed the most people in Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Libya and the DRC.

Despite ongoing brutal conflicts since the early 2000s, violence in Africa has been moving away from armed conflicts to higher levels of riots, protests and social violence, such as homicide and violence associated with organised crime. The evidence base for social violence is however weaker – typically drawn from nationally reported homicide statistics. These sources provide little information about for example actor types, tactics and association with criminal gangs, limiting our ability to understand the relationship between political and social violence.

The three-fold increase in ACLED-reported incidents since 2010 is largely explained by the steady rise of protests and riots, spread across the continent as seen in Figure 1 below. South Africa had the highest number of protest events in 2016, followed by Tunisia, Ethiopia and Egypt.
Figure 1: Map of event types, 2010-2016

https://issafrica.org/frame/58c7dda254f9f

Source: ACLED, Version 7.0, January 2017.
Remote violence refers to incidents where the tool used doesn’t require physical human presence, for example, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and mortar and missile attacks. Most battle events were fought in Somalia, Libya and Nigeria.

While these arcs of conflict (North Africa/Sahel, West Africa, the Horn and Great Lakes) seem to hold over time, dynamics within conflicts tend to change, as seen in the rise of remote violence. ACLED reports that Somalia saw the highest number of remote violence incidents in Africa in 2016. IEDs have become ‘the weapon of choice’ for al-Shabaab. Remote violence typically targets civilians, while battle actors target each other.

Civilian targeting is on the rise. According to ACLED, the deadliest incidents of civilian targeting in 2016 occurred in Nigeria and Ethiopia and were carried out by militias and state forces. In many settings, there is also a greater number of conflict agents than before. ACLED reports that there were 66 distinct actors in Libya in 2016, for example – almost twice as many as in 2013.

The types of actors and groups involved in conflicts are also changing. Historically, rebel groups and state forces are the most common actors across Africa, but increasingly, political and communal militias and unidentified armed groups dominate. This shift is indicative of changing motivations. Political militias differ from rebel groups in that they don’t seek to directly overthrow the governing regime.

The HIIK Conflict Barometer 2016 finds that most high- and low-intensity wars are shifting away from coup attempts and power grabs compared to previous years, and the continent is witnessing more ‘violent crises’, which are associated with fewer deaths, refugees and internally displaced persons.

But politically motivated violence is only part of the story. In 2013, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Global Study on Homicide estimated that 31% of global homicides occurred in Africa. So to get the full picture, data is needed on both political/conflict-related violence and criminal violence – a point made by the OECD report and a new report by Rachel Kleinfeld of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

For starters, governments need the capacity to better collect data and regularly release crime statistics. These should be disaggregated by gender and include important information, such as links with organised crime. Different data sources also need to be standardised and made compatible with each other so that they can be compared.

This is necessary, as Kleinfeld points out, if African countries want to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal to ‘significantly reduce all forms of violence and related deaths everywhere’.

Ciara Aucoin, Researcher, African Futures and Innovation, ISS Pretoria

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France confident that US will not force cuts in UN mission in Mali

Reuters

France confident U.S. will not cut into Mali U.N. mission needs

FILE PHOTO: French soldiers from Operation Barkhane patrol north of Timbuktu
By John Irish | GAO, Mali

GAO, Mali France’s foreign minister said on Friday he was confident that the United States would not seek cuts to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali, but said Paris was ready to study its efficiency as Washington reviews its overall U.N. strategy.

Former colonial power France intervened in 2013 to drive out al Qaeda-linked militants who seized northern Mali the year before. It has since deployed some 4,000 soldiers, known as the Barkhane force, across the region to hunt down Islamists.

That operation has paved way for the U.N. to deploy its more than 10,000-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping force to the West African state at a cost of about $1 billion a year.

A surge in violence from Islamist militants, difficulties in implementing a peace deal between the government and northern rebels and the mission’s lack of equipment and manpower have raised eyebrows at a time when Washington wants to review its funding to the U.N.

“It doesn’t mean that just because you are looking to make savings that you abandon these peacekeeping missions,” Jean-Marc Ayrault told Reuters ahead of visiting French troops in the central Malian city of Gao.

The United States is the largest contributor to the United Nations, paying 22 percent of the $5.4 billion core U.N. budget and 28 percent of the $7.9 billion U.N. peacekeeping budget. These are assessed contributions – agreed by the U.N. General Assembly – and not voluntary payments.

“As far as Mali is concerned … it’s clear that it’s an indispensable mission,” Ayrault said. “Everyone recognises that France took the lead on this and that the peacekeeping operation would not have happened without us, so I’m not pessimistic.”

He said Paris would look objectively on how to improve things ahead of the mission renewal on June 30, but that as a whole Washington should think twice before dropping missions in high-risk areas.

Speaking at a U.N. Security Council on Thursday, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley criticised the mission saying progress in stabilising the country was stalled, equipment did not meet the standards, and that countries were too slow in committing troops.

“This is a dangerous situation. But if we act urgently, there is hope. We can – and we must – do better,” she said, adding that Washington would be “taking a careful look at the force’s mandated tasks and the distribution of its forces.”

Ayrault, whose trip to Mali comes after a French soldier was killed in clashes in the south of the country on Wednesday, will be accompanied by his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel.

Earlier this year, Germany decided to increase its troop numbers in Mali to about 1,000 as part of MINUSMA and add eight attack helicopters.

The two ministers, who want to show that European Union member states are sharing the burden in overseas operations, are also expected to be in Bamako to pressure President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta to do more to implement a stuttering peace deal brokered in Algeria.

“It is difficult. The Algiers accords must be implemented and we are encouraging the Malian authorities to do everything they can. It’s all very fragile,” Ayrault said.

(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Toni Reinhold