News / Africa

Malian Military Takes Aim at Kidal

FILE - Soldiers from the Tuareg rebel group MNLA drive in a convoy of pickup trucks in the northeastern town of Kidal, Mali, February 4, 2013.
FILE - Soldiers from the Tuareg rebel group MNLA drive in a convoy of pickup trucks in the northeastern town of Kidal, Mali, February 4, 2013.

Location

Kidal, Mali
TEXT SIZE - +
Anne Look
— Mali is reportedly readying its troops to retake the far northeastern town of Kidal.  Kidal is currently controlled by the Tuareg separatist group, the MNLA, which says it will negotiate but will not disarm beforehand or let the Malian army enter the town. 

Malian military sources in the northern town of Gao tell VOA that a sizable number of soldiers and military police left the town last week headed north toward Kidal.

A military spokesman in Bamako told reporters Wednesday that the liberation of Kidal is the ultimate objective but declined to give further details, saying they would "see in coming days."

Questions remain as to whether the army really could or really would attack Kidal.  It is not clear whether reported troop movements and tough talk aren't just meant to push forward negotiations.

Kidal remains a sore point in Mali.  Many insist that its ambiguous status must be dealt with before elections can go ahead in July.

Kidal is the only major northern town not to return to Malian army control since French forces arrived in January and led a drive that drove al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants out of northern Mali's towns and cities, including Kidal.

Kidal is the seat of the Tuareg separatist group, the MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad), whose fight for northern independence began in January 2012 and triggered the ongoing nationwide crisis just two months later.

Both the MNLA and the government have said publicly they want to negotiate, but talks haven't gotten off the ground.  The government says rebels must disarm before talks.

A group of Tuareg notables, local chiefs and elected officials in Kidal created the High Council of Azawad (territory in northern Mali) on May 2.  The council is trying to corral members of the armed groups in Kidal, including the MNLA, to negotiations.

Council president Mohamed ag Intallah says reconciliation is the top priority and that Malian authorities need to give them more time.

"The council is asking for at the moment is that Malian authorities stop hostilities, stop the army's mission, and give them a chance to find a peaceful solution.  They want the residents of Azawad to come together at one table," said Mohammed ag Intallah, an influential figure in Kidal.  He is the eldest son of the region's traditional tribal chief.  But it is unclear how much support the newly created council has in the MNLA.

The MNLA says it is the government of Mali that has not been serious about negotiations.

The MNLA has agreed to give up its demand for independence and is ready to meet the conditions of the international community to accelerate dialogue," said MNLA spokesman Moussa ag Attaher. "If today Mali decides to turn a deaf ear and ventures to attack any of the six localities under MNLA control, the MNLA will have no choice but to defend itself and the local population with 'every ounce of its determination.'"

Amadou Maiga contributed reporting from Bamako, Mali.

You May Like

Multimedia Parents of Disaster Ferry Passengers Lash Out at Authorities

Twenty-nine bodies recovered from water but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

US congressional delegation initiates $84 million Agent Orange cleanup project More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid