Jihadists cowed but not beaten

2013-10-20 09:55
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Gao - As patrols are stepped up against the jihadists who killed a Malian soldier in the northern city of Gao, fear stalks the streets for residents living under the watch of extremists.

Bintou Yattara with her three children tight by her side stood in front of a house which still bore the scars of the huge shell that almost killed them all.

"We heard something crash and there was a lot of dust, but we didn't know it had hit the house," she said.

It was only when they ran out of their home to escape the cloud of dirt that had risen up that Yattara realised what had happened.

"Since then my family has lived in fear. We no longer know what to do," she told AFP.

A Malian soldier was injured during the attack, claimed by al-Qaeda splinter group the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) on 7 October, during which rockets rained down on the city and damaged buildings.

The soldier later died of his injuries and was buried on Wednesday, according to an army official.

The shelling was the first attack in months, though the group has been actively recruiting in West Africa and France.

For months in 2012 MUJAO imposed a brutal version of Islamic law, carrying out amputations and executions for "non-Islamic" behaviour, and were removed only after a January intervention by the French army and Malian soldiers.

"The Malian army and security forces are an active presence in the area, we have been on patrol many times seeking out the perpetrators," said Colonel Oumar Diarra, a commander with Malian forces in Gao. 

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  mali  |  west africa

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