News24

Tuareg attack: Mali city on high alert

2012-02-07 07:34

Bamako - Tuareg rebels say they have taken up strategic positions around the city of Kidal, prompting the regional capital to go on high alert.

If the rebels succeed in attacking, it will mark the first aggression against a major city since they launched their rebellion just over two weeks ago. In that period of time, the rebels have attacked at least six smaller towns in the north of the landlocked country.

The Paris-based spokesperson for the rebels Moussa Ag Acharatoumane on Monday suggested a pending attack. He said, "We're surrounding the town, but we haven't cut it off completely."

The rebels claim they are fighting for independence. Analysts and experts say the fighting is one of the after effects of the fall of Tripoli. Many of the ethnic Tuareg fighters were previously enlisted in Muammar Gaddafi's army.

"We have more than 1 500 Malians who have found refuge inside our borders," a Burkina Faso official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"There are those who are fleeing the fighting in the north and those fleeing the abuses committed in Bamako," he said, adding that deserting soldiers and paramilitary forces were also among the refugees.

He said that the refugees had come to the capital Ouagadougou and to the country's second city of Bobo Dioulasso, 365km to the west.