Posts tagged ‘Ansar Dine’

AROUND AFRICA: UN Base in Mali Attacked; Boko Haram Bombing; Pirates Are Back; Covering Africa

Another Mali Attack.

Mali and its neighbors (CIA World Factbook)

Mali and its neighbors
(CIA World Factbook)

Two United Nations peacekeepers and a civilian contractor were killed in a rocket attack Saturday (November 28) on a U.N. base in northern Mali.

The attack on the dessert base near Kidal (see map) killed two soldiers from Guinea. More than 10,000 UN peacekeepers from several countries — mostly nearby West African nations like Guinea — have been patrolling violence-wracked Mali since 2013, according to the BBC.

The UN mission in Mali — criticized at the time of its approval because there is no peace deal to support — has suffered more casualties than any other in recent years, with 56 troops killed, the BBC indicated in a November 20 video report.

Olivier Salgado, spokesman for the UN’s deployment in Mali known as MINUSMA, told Al Jazeera the attack was launched before dawn with five rockets landing inside the UN compound. Salgado said 20 other people were wounded, four seriously.

“In the past we’ve had mortar shells land outside, but this time they made it into the camp,” he said.

The armed group Ansar Dine told the AFP news agency it was responsible for the attack. Hamadou Ag Khallini, one of the group’s senior figures told AFP by phone that the attack was “in response to the violation of our lands by the enemies of Islam.”

French forces intervened in Mali, a former French colony, when a rebellion by heavily-armed Tuareg nomads sparked an Army coup in 2012 because the government’s poor handling of the revolt. The Tuaregs, backed by al Qaeda-linked Islamist extremists, took advantage of the chaos and swept over half the country — threatening Bamako, the capital — before the French intervened with ground troops and aircraft.

But violence has picked up again. Five UN peacekeepers were killed in July, and just over a week ago a militant assault on a luxury hotel in Bamako left more than 20 people dead. On Friday (November 27), Malian forces arrested two men in connection with the hotel attack, the Voice of America website reported..

Other West African governments are also battling insurgents. Boko Haram, the leading armed group in the region, has this year extended its attacks from Nigeria to the neighboring states of Niger, Cameroon and Chad, Al Jazeera noted.

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Boko Haram-Nigeria.

Nigeria (CIA World factbook)

(CIA World factbook)

The Islamic State-linked militant group Boko Haram is claiming responsibility for a suicide bombing in northern Nigeria Friday (November 27) that killed at least 22 people marching in a procession of Shi’ite pilgrims.

The blast near the village of Dakozoye, south of Kano, came just days after two female bombers blew themselves up at a local mobile telephone market in Kano, killing at least 14 people and wounding more than 100 others in the city of 2.1 million residents, the Voice of America reported.

A statement posted Saturday (November 28) on Twitter referred to the Friday blast as a “martyrdom-seeking operation.”  It also vowed more violence would come as the extremist group presses its six-year campaign for an independent Islamic state, or caliphate, in northeastern Nigeria and the nearby countries of northern Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Followers of The Islamic Movement of Nigeria were marching from Kano to Zaria through the village of Dakasoye on Friday when the attackers struck, according to Al Jazeera. The followers were on a “symbolic trek” to Zaria, where the Islamic Movement of Nigeria’s leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky is based, to mark the 40th day of Ashura – the death of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Hussein.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram has been labeled the world’s deadliest terrorist group, according to the New York Times.

The militant group that has tortured Nigeria and its neighbors for years, was responsible for 6,664 deaths last year, more than any other terrorist group in the world, including the Islamic State, which killed 6,073 people in 2014, according to a report released (November 18).

The report, by the Institute of Economics & Peace, said the Islamic State and Boko Haram were responsible for half of all global deaths attributed to terrorism. Last year, the deaths attributed to Boko Haram alone increased by more than 300 percent, the report said. The report also found a drastic increase in terrorist attacks last year, with the majority occurring in three countries: Iraq, Syria and Nigeria, where other militant groups besides Boko Haram operate.

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Pirates Redux.

Five Polish sailors have been abducted from a cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria, according to the BBC and other news outlets.

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said the men– including a captain and other three officers — were kidnapped Thursday night (November 26) from the cargo ship Szafir.

Pirates boarded the vessel as it traveled from Belgium to Nigeria, according to Polish media reports. Eleven other sailors evaded capture, apparently by locking themselves in the engine room.

Security experts classify the waters off Nigeria as some of the deadliest on earth, with pirates based in the country often targeting oil tankers, as well as hostages to ransom, Al Jazeera reported.

But the region has seen no documented attacks since February, when a crude carrier was boarded with the ship’s Greek deputy captain killed and three crew members taken hostage.

November 28, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: Mali! Mali! Mali!

Army Losing Control

Mali (CIA World Factbook)

Mali in Africa (CIA World Factbook)

Islamist forces in northern Mali have attacked and taken a long-held village from the West African nation’s army.

The New York Times reports the militants have seized Konna a village that had marked the limit of the army’s control of the country. An army spokesman refused to confirm or deny the loss but an unidentified Malian Army officer told the Times the situation was “very serious” and “very dangerous.”

The Malian Army has been in disarray since a coup  last March that overthrew the democratically-elected president. The ensuing chaos prompted Tuareg nationalists in the country’s northern deserts to swoop down and seize half the country — an area the size of France — including key towns like the legendary caravan trading city of Timbuktu.

Since then, militant Islamist groups like Ansar Dine have seized control of the revolt, allied with al Qaeda affiliates like al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and imposed harsh Islamic law, including floggings and amputations of limbs for theft and other crimes. They have also destroyed tombs and other historic religious sites they deem idolatrous.

This latest setback may affect a United Nations Security Council-approved plan to send troops to assist the Malian Army retake the north.

Seeking French Help

Mali’s president, Dioncounda Traore, asked France Thursday (Jan. 10) for help in countering the Islamist offensive now threatening Mopti, a city of 100,000, according to the Associated Press.

France’s U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud said Traore sent letters to U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon for the Security Council and also to French President Francois Hollande, seeking fassistance from Mali’s former colonial ruler.

In December, the Security Council authorized an African-led force to support the Malian Army in retaking the north. No timeline was set however.

Western security officials have expressed concern that terrorists could turn a chaotic Mali into a platform for attacking Europe.

New Regional Threat

The Long War Journal reports that a West African terrorist group says it is forming a new “brigade” with four “battalions” to conduct operations in northern Mali. The al Qaeda-linked Movement for Tawhid [Unity] and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) announced the formation on Jan. 4.

MUJAO is one of three major al Qaeda-linked groups that participated in last spring’s invasion of northern Mali.

Mali and its neighbors(CIA World Factbook)

Mali and its neighbors
(CIA World Factbook)

January 10, 2013 at 11:21 pm Leave a comment


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