Six former fighters were killed this week in an attack claimed by an Islamist group linked to Al-Qaeda in northeastern Mali, the country’s main ex-rebel group and a UN source has said.
“The terrorists on Thursday attacked one of our positions in the Kidal region near the Algerian border. Six of our fighters were killed,” Moussa Ag Tinflou, a member of the Coordination of Movements of Azawad (CMA)
The attackers also burnt down CMA vehicles, he added.
The CMA was one of northern Mali’s main rebel factions, and Islamist groups are branded “terrorist” in this region.
An official from the UN mission in Mali MINUSMA confirmed the information.
“The attack was carried out by fighters from the (Islamist) movement of Ansar Dine of the Tuareg Iyad Ag Ghaly, who opposed the CMA’s signing of the peace accord,” the source said.
The CMA and Ansar Dine were once allies in a rebellion against Bamako, but former Tuareg rebels including the CMA signed peace agreements in May and June with the government.
The attack was claimed in an Ansar Dine statement published by the Mauritanian private news agency Al-Akhbar.
In the claim, Ansar Dine said it had killed 11 people and “liberated fighters who had been taken prisoner”.
In spring 2012 northern Mali fell under the control of jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda including Ansar Dine who imposed a brutal interpretation of sharia law on the region, with the country reeling from a military coup.
The Islamists were largely ousted by an ongoing French-led military operation launched in January 2013, although they have since carried out sporadic attacks on security forces from desert hideouts.
Omolara Adegoke- Abuja
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. We also authorize the copying and usage of parts or the whole of this publication as long as Credit is given to thebreakingtimes.com and other mentioned sources