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.

 

Saudi King sets up new state security agency

Hezbollah launches Syria border operation

Intensifying Jihadist-rebel clashes in Syria's Idlib

Police fire tear gas to disperse Morocco protest

Foreign food chains hoping for taste of Iran market

Three Palestinians shot dead in Jerusalem

Nearly 360 injured in Turkey by magnitude 6.7 quake

UN says Saudi to blame for deadly Yemen strike on civilians

Germany reviews arms sales to Turkey

China calls for Gulf crisis talks

Israel bars men under 50 from Jerusalem Old City prayers

Rebel ambush kills 28 regime fighters near Damascus

Turkey slams 'dangerous' Cyprus energy plans

Saudi prince 'arrested over leaked abuse videos'

Israel boosts 'security measures' as Al-Aqsa tensions simmer

Kuwait expels Iranian diplomats over 'terror' cell

Germany vows to overhaul Turkey ties as row escalates

Home cooked meals a relief for fighters in Syria's Raqa

US maintains designation of Iran as top 'state sponsor'

US halting support for Syria rebels

30 civilians dead in anti-IS strikes in Syria

Palestinian civilians urge ICC to speed up probe

Turkey PM opts for stability in light cabinet reshuffle

UN aid flight carrying journalists barred from Yemen

Former IS slaves fight for revenge in Raqa

US, Iran trade tit-for-tat sanctions

20 Yemeni civilians killed in air strike

14 killed in opposition infighting in Syria's Idlib

Morocco sentences 25 to prison over W. Sahara killings

Egypt police kill top militants

Heavy rainfall hits Istanbul causing transport chaos

Palestinians protest Israeli security measures at Al-Aqsa compound

Saudi police question woman who wore miniskirt

Rebels, US-backed Kurds clash in northern Syria

Netanyahu says Hungary is 'standing up for' Israel

Lebanon army to launch operation near Syria border

Morocco delays currency reform amid speculation

Iran parliament vows to fight US 'adventurism'

4 killed in suicide car bomb at Kurdish checkpoint in Syria

Israel opposes Syria truce deal over Iran presence

Egypt to end visas on arrival for Qatari citizens

Erdogan to visit Qatar, Saudi Arabia

Turkey court refuses to free six rights activists

Trump keeps Iran deal, but sanctions will stay in place

UAE FM warns Qatar is 'undermining' GCC allies