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.

 

16 killed in Israeli shelling of UN school in Gaza

Islamists capture key Benghazi army base

US plans largest ever sale of lethal missiles to Iraq

Mosul’s residents rise up against jihadists

Qatar invests in Israeli soccer

Militants fire at Tunisia army helicopter

Italian fire-fighting planes to come to Libya rescue

Syria rebels advance towards Hama military airport

Bloodshed in Gaza surges amid no truce

Major western powers call for Libya ceasefire

US-Israeli ties sink to new depths over Gaza war

UN warns buying oil from terrorists could lead to sanctions

Air Algerie crash black boxes sent to France

Warning of Tripoli catastrophe after huge oil depot blaze

US, UN call for immediate Gaza ceasefire

Egypt army kills 14 jihadists in restive Sinai Peninsula

Calls for temporary Gaza ceasefire fall on deaf ears

Yemen army foils new Qaeda attempt to seize military posts

Investigators need ‘few days’ to probe cause of Algeria plane crash

Tunisia army suffers more losses in open war with terrorism

Jihadists advance amid escalation in Syria anti-regime offensive

Iraq Shiite militia takes bloody revenge against ‘Islamic State’ in Baquba

Fierce clashes kill at least 38 people in Benghazi

Israel resumes devastating military assault on Gaza

Thousands face famine as food security situation worsens in Somalia

Death toll in Gaza climbs as fragile ceasefire reveals destruction

Egypt summons Turkey charge d'affaires for second time in one week

‘Islamic State’ jihadists dynamite Shiite shrine in Mosul

US evacuates embassy staff in Libya over ‘real risk’

Investigators begin 'difficult' probe into Air Algerie plane disaster

Armed men snatch Head of Baghdad Provincial Council

‘Islamic State’ beheads Syrian soldiers in Raqa

Kerry in Paris for talks on long-term Gaza truce

Hezbollah chief speaks out on Gaza

Two rival Islamic states in Syria power struggle

Crete protest against Syria chemicals destruction in Mediterranean

74 killed in IS assault on Syria regime territory

Iran confirms arrest of Washington Post correspondent

Somali 'Shebab commanders' killed in AU offensive

Paris: survivors of Air Algerie jet crash 'unlikely'

Jordan shots down drone near Syria border

Gaza civilian toll spiralling to above 800

UN urges Europe to tackle Mediterranean migrant crisis

From Israel with ‘virus’: Death threat letter reaches Palestinian mission in France

Ordeal of ‘apostasy’ woman ends with departure from Sudan