Tuaregs seize key north Mali town

2012-03-30 17:29


Bamako - Tuareg rebels fighting alongside an armed Islamist group seized the strategic town of Kidal in the far north of Mali on Friday as the country grappled with a military coup, witnesses said.

"The rebels are in charge, the army put up no resistance," a teacher said on condition of anonymity in Kidal, which is 1 000 from the capital Bamako.

"Yesterday they launched their offensive, it stopped at about 20:00 and began again this morning. They have taken the two military camps."

A civil servant confirmed to AFP the rebels had entered the town and were telling people to go about their business and not be afraid.

"They are telling civilians 'Allah Akbar' and we respond 'Allah Akbar' [God is Greatest]," he said.

He said the men were Islamist fighters belonging to the group Ansar Dine which has emerged on the flanks of the Tuareg rebel Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA) in recent weeks, in an ambiguous relationship.

The MNLA in mid-January relaunched a decades-old fight for the independence of what the Tuareg consider their homeland.

They were joined by renowned rebel Iyad Ag Ghaly, who led the country's second Tuareg rebellion since Mali's independence between 1990 and 1995 and has returned as the head of Ansar Dine, which has ties to al-Qaeda's north African branch.

Ag Ghaly once played a key role as power broker between government and Tuareg rebels and was sent by ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure as an adviser to the consulate in Saudi Arabia.

Huge prize for rebels

His involvement in recent fighting emerged when a video was released in March showing dead and captured soldiers after a bloody attack on the town of Aguelhok, in which a spokesman introduces Ansar Dine, naming Ag Ghaly as their commander.

Ag Ghaly is seen inspecting fighters and leading them in prayer and the group explains it aims to impose sharia, or Islamic law, on the country.

The MNLA has distanced itself from any religious demands.

The seizure of Kidal, the capital of the north-eastern region bordering Niger and Algeria, is a huge prize for the rebels who have already taken the two other main towns of Tessalit and Aguelhok in the province.

Aguelhok, taken in January, was one of the bloodiest battles in their offensive and France said 82 civilians and soldiers were summarily executed - tied up and shot point blank or their throats slit.

Renegade soldiers angry at the Toure government's handling of the northern conflict - in which Tuareg forces, boosted by heavily armed fighters recently returned from Libya, have overwhelmed a poorly-equipped army - seized power in Bamako on March 22.

West African states on Thursday set the coup leaders a three-day ultimatum to restore constitutional order or face diplomatic and economic isolation.

Read more on:    tuaregs  |  al-qaeda  |  amadou toumani toure  |  mali  |  west africa

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
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Watch: 5 skills to improve your BMX riding

Learn some great skills that will help your riding on the road and on the track.


Where were you when you last felt alive?

Tips on how to set your fitness goals
This all-terrain vehicle is badass!
The TRUTH about painkillers and exercise
WIN! Where were you when you last felt alive?

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

PHP Developer

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Communicate Cape Town IT
R25 000 - R30 000 Per Month


Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Persona Staff

Electrical Contracts Manager

West Coast
DAV Professional Placement Group
R500 000 Per Year

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

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on electronics!

Get mind blowing savings on top electronic products. 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


You may be spending too much time organising and trying to control things to make sure everything is perfect instead of just...read more

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


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.


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.