News / Africa

    Mali at War With Tuareg Separatists After Attack, Abductions, PM Says

    FILE - MINUSMA peacekeepers stand guard in front of the governor's office in Kidal, Mali.
    FILE - MINUSMA peacekeepers stand guard in front of the governor's office in Kidal, Mali.
    Reuters
    Mali's prime minister said his country was at war with Tuareg separatists after the rebels attacked a northern town he was visiting, killing at least eight soldiers and abducting about 30 civil servants.
     
    Some shooting had already broken out before Prime Minister Moussa Mara arrival in Kidal early on Saturday and he was forced to take shelter in an army base as rebel fighters attacked and seized the regional governor's office.
     
    Clashes continued throughout the day with sporadic shooting eventually easing during the night.
     
    “In light of this declaration of war, the Republic of Mali is henceforth at war,” Mara told a Reuters reporter inside the base overnight.
     
    “We are going to formulate the appropriate response to the situation,” added the prime minister, who was visiting Kidal for the first time since his appointment last month to revive long-delayed talks with northern armed groups.
     
    Mali, a former French colony, was thrown into turmoil in 2012 when al Qaeda-linked Islamists took advantage of a Tuareg-led rebellion and seized control of the country's north.
     
    A French-led military operation, known as Serval, drove back the Islamists last year, but now the Mali government's focus has turned back to the Tuareg rebels.
     
    In control of Kidal

    A spokesman for the MNLA rebel group claimed control of the town of Kidal on Sunday. During the day Mara moved on from Kidal to another northern town, Gao.

    At least eight soldiers were killed and 25 others were wounded in the clashes, potentially the worst pitting the government against Tuareg rebels since the French intervention. They now threaten to sink efforts to find a peaceful solution to the long cycle of rebellions in the West African nation's desert north.

    The government and a grouping of armed groups, which broke with the Islamists ahead of the French offensive, signed an agreement last year promising to hold talks over autonomy.

    MINUSMA, a nearly 13,000-strong United Nations peace-keeping mission, is rolling out but is not yet at full strength.
     
    Mara poured criticism on both the French and U.N. forces for allowing the attack to take place.
     
    “You were witnesses today to the more than passiveness of these forces,” he said. “The very least we'd expected from MINUSMA and Serval was that they'd ensure the governor's office wasn't attacked.”
     
    A U.N. spokesman on Sunday declined to comment on the events in Kidal.

    In a statement on Sunday, MINUSMA said 21 U.N. police officers were injured in the clashes while providing security for the prime minister. Two suffered from serious gunshot wounds. However the peacekeeping mission did not say who was believed to have started the clashes.

    A Malian military source said Saturday's gun battle erupted after MNLA fighters in two pickup trucks attacked an army checkpoint in front of the governor's office.

    Serious injuries

    The region's governor, Adama Kamissoko, told Reuters on Sunday that three of the worst injured soldiers had been evacuated by helicopter. He said MNLA fighters had kidnapped the civil servants, who had gathered at the governor's office ahead of a meeting with the prime minister.
     
    A spokesman for the MNLA said the army attacked first, opening fire on the group's barracks following pro-independence protests in the town. He said that the rebels were controlling key locations in Kidal on Sunday.
     
    “We've taken about 40 prisoners, including high-ranking military officers and civil servants. They're all safe and sound and doing well,” Attaye Ag Mohamed told Reuters by telephone from the town.
     
    He said Mali's United Nations peacekeeping mission had called for a ceasefire and there had been no fighting on Sunday.
     
    “The town is completely secured by us. … The army are back inside their base. If they attack us, however, we'll fight back,” he said.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.