News / Africa

Two Senior Islamists Captured in Northern Mali

A convoy of Malian troops makes a stop to test their weapons near Hambori, northern Mali, on the road to Gao, February 4, 2013. A convoy of Malian troops makes a stop to test their weapons near Hambori, northern Mali, on the road to Gao, February 4, 2013.
A convoy of Malian troops makes a stop to test their weapons near Hambori, northern Mali, on the road to Gao, February 4, 2013.
A convoy of Malian troops makes a stop to test their weapons near Hambori, northern Mali, on the road to Gao, February 4, 2013.
VOA News
Two senior Islamist militants have been captured in northern Mali, including a top leader of radical group Ansar Dine.  

The Tuareg separatist group MNLA says it arrested Mohamed Moussa Ag Mohamed and Oumeini Ould Baba Akhmed on Saturday near Mali's border with Algeria.

Ag Mohamed is the number-three leader of Ansar Dine and helped impose a harsh form of Islamic law on the city of Timbuktu.  

Baba Akhmed is believed to be a member of the Movement for Unification and Jihad in West Africa, also known as MUJAO.

  • Malian soldiers man a bridge at the entrance of Gao, northern Mali where a suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed himself attempting to blow up an army checkpoint, Feb. 8, 2013.
  • Malian soldiers stand by a motorcycle used by a suicide bomber at the entrance of Gao, northern Mali, Feb. 8, 2013.
  • Malian soldiers inspect an explosive they found after residents notified authorities of suspicious bags left by radicals when they fled Gao, northern Mali, February 6, 2013.
  • A Malian man walks between doors of closed shops in Gao, northern Mali, February 5, 2013.
  • A child stands by his donkey cart, in Gao, northern Mali, February 5, 2013.
  • Men carry humanitarian food aid toward boats, Mopti, Mali, February 4, 2013.
  • A Malian woman looks at men carrying humanitarian food aid, Mopti, Mali, February 4, 2013.
  • Malian soldiers escort prisoners, who are suspected al-Qaida-allied fighters, in front of a military cell in Mopti, Mali, February 4, 2013.
  • A convoy of Malian troops on the road to Gao, northern Mali, February 4, 2013.
  • French President Francois Hollande holds hands with Mali's interim President Dioncounda Traoré in Timbuktu, Mali, February 2, 2013.
  • A man takes a close look at a burned-out truck in Timbuktu, Mali, January 31, 2013.

Ansar Dine

  • Name means "Defenders of the Faith"
  • Follows a puritanical form of Islam known as Salafism
  • Wants to impose strict Sharia law
  • Took control of parts of northern Mali after a March coup in Bamako
  • Led by Ag Ghali, a former senior rebel military commander
The two groups along with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb controlled the major towns of northern Mali for about nine months before being driven out by the French and Malian armies.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Monday that French warplanes were continuing bombing raids on supply routes and training centers in the remote desert of northeastern Mali. He told French radio that the objective is to make it impossible for the rebels to stay in northern Mali long-term.

Also Monday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden met with French President Francois Hollande in Paris and praised the French operation in Mali, calling it "decisive."

Biden also backed France's call for U.N. peacekeepers to be deployed to Mali

Hollande is pushing for African forces to take over for French troops that have been battling the militants for the past three weeks. He made a one-day visit to Mali on Saturday, making brief stops in Sevare, Timbuktu and the capital, Bamako.  

He told a cheering crowd in Bamako that French forces are fighting so people in Mali, a former French colony, can live in peace and have democracy.

Mali was plunged into crisis last year when soldiers overthrew the president, allowing the MNLA and Islamist groups to take control of the north. The Islamists then seized full control of the region and imposed strict Sharia law with measures that included a ban on music and forcing women to wear veils.  

The groups also carried out public executions, floggings, and amputations for alleged criminals, drawing strong condemnation for human rights groups and the United Nations.

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Comment Sorting
by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
February 04, 2013 10:16 AM
While the Tuareg rebels captured two senior Islamic militants, did French military kill or capture or wound any of the Islamic militants during their fly over in Mali? Did the Mali or ECOWAS forces catch, kill or wound any of the Moslem terrorists?

The French military helped to avoid the take over of Mali by Moslem terrorists. Without the reduction in the number of Moslem terrorists, the French, Mali and ECOWAS forces allowed the Moslem terrorist diaspora to spread to border countries.

The ECOWAS countries are sending their military forces to keep peace in Mali, when their own countries are threatened by Moslem terrorism. There is no change or reduction in the threats posed by the Moslem terrorists. The terrorists are just playing the hide and seek. There is a long way to go to reduce the threat of Moslem terrorism in the Sub-Sahara, Sahil Saharan and ECOWAS countries.

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