Malian rebels seize key border town

2012-02-09 11:02
Bamako - The United Nations called on rebels in northern Mali on Wednesday to halt their offensive, shortly after they seized the strategic border town of Tinzawatene and forced government troops to withdraw into Algeria.

The fighting in the remote north-eastern town followed a three-week desert advance by a Tuareg-led rebel force, helped by Malians returning from the Libyan conflict, which has forced about 60 000 civilians to flee their homes.

"The Secretary-General condemns the use of violence as a means to achieve political objectives," a spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement.

"He therefore calls on the rebel groups to immediately cease their attacks and to engage in dialogue with the Government of Mali to resolve their grievances," the statement added.

The seizure of Tinzawatene by the Tuareg-led MNLA rebels, who say they are fighting to create an independent state in north Mali, is a significant gain as it gives them control of a key transit and smuggling point in the desert.

The rebels have said they are open to talks, but only over the question of independence for north Mali. The government in Bamako has rejected any idea of a breakaway and said talks could only take place after the rebel push had been halted.

The government issued a statement on Wednesday confirming that its soldiers had withdrawn from Tinzawatene into neighbouring Algeria after several days of rebel attacks.

It said the troops carried out a "tactical withdrawal" from their military base near the Algerian border. One soldier had been killed and two wounded in the fighting, it added.

Food shortages

Hama Ag Sid'Ahmed, a rebel spokesperson, said the rebels were in control of the town's two military camps and had seized several armoured and other military vehicles. One rebel had been killed and one wounded the fighting, Ag Sid'Ahmed said.

The rebels have pushed south on three fronts since fighting erupted in mid-January.

The International Committee for the Red Cross said the number of Malians displaced within the country had risen to 30 000, and a further 15 000 had crossed into Niger.

Mauritanian aid officials have said at least 5 000 Malians have crossed westwards over the shared border. Burkina Faso, Mali's southern neighbour, said it had welcomed over 8 000 refugees from the conflict.

The fighting has dispersed civilians in search of food and shelter across a region that the UN has warned is on the brink of yet another round of food shortages of its own.

Before the rebellion started, northern Mali was already awash with smugglers and home to a small but powerful group of fighters linked to al-Qaeda.

Read more on:    un  |  al-qaeda  |  ban ki-moon  |  mali  |  west africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Something may be bothering you. A flooded mind and impulsive reactions are not a good combination as you are not thinking clearly....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.