First Published: 2013-04-22

 

Arab militants seize town in northeastern Mali

 

Arab Movement of Azawad has captured Ber from armed gang which has not been identified yet.

 

Middle East Online

They want to work with the French and Africans fighting against terrorism and drug traffickers

GAO, Mali - Arab militants captured a village near Mali's desert city of Timbuktu on Sunday, sources said, as ethnic Tuareg rebels massed in a show of strength near another key northern city.

The Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) said it had taken Ber, a settlement of around 9,000 people some 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Timbuktu, from an armed gang which had been "harrassing our parents".

"As of Sunday, we control the town," Mohamed El Maouloud Ramadane, a spokesman for the MAA said.

"We want to work with the French and Africans fighting against terrorism and drug traffickers," he added.

A military source in Timbuktu confirmed the claim, adding: "The MAA effectively controls the city now. They launched an attack on a local armed group which has not been identified yet."

France launched a military intervention in its former colony in January to prevent Al Qaeda-linked Islamist insurgents who had occupied the cities of the vast northern desert since April 2012 from progressing to the capital.

After recapturing the north, the 14-week-old offensive took the fight to the retreating Islamist insurgents' toughest desert bastions and they are facing a guerrilla campaign that includes sudden raids, suicide attacks and land mines.

The vacuum left by the Islamists' retreat has allowed Tuareg rebels from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) to regain a foothold in the area, with Arab groups such as the MAA also staking a claim on the region.

A number of corroborating sources told AFP they had seen at least 200 armed ethnic Tuaregs from the Islamic Movement of Azawad (MIA), a splinter group from the the main Islamist group Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith), massed near the northeastern city of Kidal.

"The armed MIA men came close to Kidal. There are at least 200. They have been arriving at encampments since Friday. We have seen this," an African military source in the area said.

"The MIA is putting on a show of force. Approximately 200 of its armed militants came close to Kidal," a resident in the area added.

Alghabass ag Intallah, the leader of the MIA, did not deny the claim, but said he did not want to "say too much".

"Yes, MIA youths and others have gathered. We want to know if Bamako wants peace or not," he said.

The separatist Tuareg rebels of the MNLA initially led the takeover of northern Mali last year in a bid to split the region from the south, where the government in Bamako has long marginalised their community.

Fighting alongside Ansar Dine and backed by the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, the Tuareg were then swiftly pushed aside and the alliance collapsed, with many MNLA fighters instead defecting to Islamist rebel groups.

The MNLA then came out in support of the French-led intervention, hoping the move could help it regain control of the north.

 

Push on IS capital Raqqa gathers momentum

Ailing Bouteflika 'doing well' despite health scare

Iraq forces look to build floating bridge in Mosul

Boosting presidental powers will 'stabilise' Turkey, says PM

Film on Syria's White Helmets wins Academy Award

Shia leadership struggle ahead after Khamenei and Sistani

Morocco to withdraw from Western Sahara tension zone

The huge risks of Trump’s call to ‘take’ Iraqi oil

Trump set to zero in on Hezbollah in bid to curb Iran

Time bomb of unemployment among Arab youth

Woman journalist says targeted by hardliners in Sudan

Iran's Ahmadinejad writes open letter to Trump

Iran's Rouhani to run for re-election

Kurdish reporter killed while covering Mosul battle

Libya govt secures ceasefire after Tripoli clashes

Saudi Foreign Minister in landmark visit to Iraq

Iraqi forces push deeper into west Mosul

Suicide attacks kill 42 in Syria's Homs

Top US commander in secret Syria trip

Israel to deny Human Rights Watch visas for being ‘biased’

UN considers Syria sanctions over chemical attacks

Saudi Comic-Con slammed as ‘sin’ in online backlash

Jordanians protest government price hikes

Baghdad coordinated anti-IS airstrikes with Damascus says source

New Hamas Gaza leader makes first public appearance

Palestinian protestors clash with Israeli soldiers in West Bank

Jordanian F-16 crashes in Saudi, pilot survives

Suicide bomb attack on rebels kills 51 near Al-Bab

Iraqi PM says air force strikes IS targets in Syria

Iraqi forces enter IS-held west Mosul

UN slams light sentence for Israeli soldier

Saudi king seeks investment on rare Asia tour

UN Syria peace talks begin in Geneva

Saudi minister discusses hajj with Iran

136 Turkish diplomats, soldiers seek German asylum since coup

New Hamas ‘strongman’ could spell fresh Israeli conflict

Suicide car bomb kills eight outside Yemen army base

Fired Turkish academics protest ‘unjust’ dismissals

Iraqi forces jovial after Mosul airport entry

Syrian rebels announce capture of flashpoint town from IS

Iraqi forces enter IS-held Mosul airport

Swedish citizen jailed for IS Facebook post

Somalia names new prime minister

Netanyahu backs pardon for Israel soldier who shot Palestinian

UN envoy meets Syrian rivals, hopes of breakthrough slim