Tuareg Rebels Vow Push in Mali After Coup

Mali coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo speaks at the Kati Military camp, in a suburb of Bamako, March 22, 2012.
Mali coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo speaks at the Kati Military camp, in a suburb of Bamako, March 22, 2012.

Tuareg rebels in northern Mali say they will push to seize more government territory, a day after mutinous soldiers in the south overthrew President Amadou Toumani Toure.

During an interview with VOA's French to Africa service, a leader of the rebel MNLA said rebels plan to advance toward areas held by the Malian army, including the towns of Kidal, Timbuktu, and Gao.

MNLA second-in-command Karim ag Matafa said the group wants to remove the government from what the rebels consider Tuareg land.

TheTuareg uprising

  • Tauregs are an ethnically Berber, nomadic people in West Africa's Sahel and Sahara regions.
  • Tuareg fighters have staged multiple uprisings in Mali and Niger for greater autonomy.
  • Current Mali rebellion began in January after Tuareg fighters returned from Libya, where they fought for Moammar Gadhafi.
  • The conflict has driven about 100,000 Malians to neighboring countries, internally displaced more than 90,000.
  • Losses to Tauregs prompted soldiers' coup in Bamako Thursday March 22.
Source:Encyclopedia Brittanica, ICRC, France 24

Our problem is not with a specific government, he says.  Our problem is with the occupation of our country.

Ethnic Tuareg fighters began their uprising against Mali's government in January.  The army's dissatisfaction with Mr. Toure's handling of the rebellion prompted soldiers to stage a coup early Thursday.

The coup has drawn strong criticism internationally.  Friday, the European Union suspended development aid to Mali, a day after the EU, United States, and African Union all called for the return of constitutional rule.

President Toure's whereabouts are unknown, though media reports Thursday said he is under the protection of his presidential guard.

The apparent leader of the mutiny, Captain Amadou Sanogo, said on state television Thursday the president and the arrested ministers are safe and will not be harmed.

"They are well and fine," he said. "I will assure you we will not harm the physical integrity of anyone, but I will assure you that while I am in charge of this movement and, in conjunction with civil society, they will face the competent authorities in full view of the Malian people.''


Thursday's coup took place just a few weeks before the president was due to step down at the end of his second term.  Elections are scheduled for next month.

Sonny Ugoh, an official with regional bloc ECOWAS, said Thursday the coup heightens insecurity in Mali. ECOWAS had been working with Mali's leaders to try to negotiate an end to the Tuareg uprising, he said.

“The president of the commission just led a fact-finding mission that returned from Mali where they held consultations, all with the intention of starting a process that would hopefully lead to a negotiated resolution of the crisis in the north of Mali."

Well-armed Tuareg separatists started attacking army bases in Mali's desert in January, after many Tuareg fighters returned from Libya, where they had assisted in the ousting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.  

The United Nations refugee agency says the conflict has uprooted 130,000 people in and around Mali. Many soldiers have died in the conflict.

Tuareg nomads have launched periodic uprisings for greater autonomy in Mali and Niger.

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Comment Sorting
by: Observer
March 25, 2012 3:52 AM
This seems like an accidental coup, barely under control by anyone. Low caste soldiers taking revenge on a society which they feel demands they risk their lives and cannot even deliver food.
Coups "led" by low ranking officers tend to turn into revolutions, and revolutions don't stay bloodless. Still time to head this off in Mali if people are willing to talk.

by: assse
March 23, 2012 11:49 PM
Military juntas should be punished as they will be lessons for others.It is shame to hear military juntas news for Africa.As far as concerned Militarists are responsible to safe guard the country and people based constitution. Militarists have no mandate to lead country. So AU is now in testing whether returning back to power Toure or not . We are waiting AU and ECOWAS.

by: zozimos
March 23, 2012 8:57 AM
Barranca please!!!. Obviously the 'author' of this article is just doing a good job writing what he/she was told to write. You expect verification too?

by: Jibrili
March 23, 2012 7:54 AM
In response to mr Barranca , there were tuareg fighters among the NTC {anti qaddafi rebels} as well , it is documented and only a quick search away . The problem is not Qaddafi , for he is dead .
Why do these people feel so disenfranchised to the point where they are compelled towards rebellion every now and then , that is the problem !

by: Barranca
March 23, 2012 7:22 AM
Please verify whether the Tuaregs were fighting for Gadhafi. This sentence makes it sound like they were fighting to remove Gadhafi, when in fact they were ardent supporters of Gadhafi:

"Well-armed Tuareg separatists started attacking army bases in Mali's desert in January, after many Tuareg fighters returned from Libya, where they had assisted in the ousting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi"

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