China Daily

14 members of pro-govt militia killed in Mali


A pro-government militia in Mali said that it had lost 14 fighters in an attack blamed on former rebels on Saturday, three days after a suicide car bomber left more than 70 dead.

Some 77 people were killed and 120 wounded in the suicide blast on Wednesday which targeted a camp in northern Gao housing former rebels and pro-government militia — who are signatorie­s to a 2015 peace accord struck with the government.

Hundreds of people gathered in the capital Bamako on Saturday to pay their respects to victims of the attack on the last of three days of national mourning called by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

The attack, Mali’s worst in years, was claimed by the group of Algerian jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, allied to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The attack occurred as former rebels from the Tuareg-led CMA movement prepared to go on a joint patrol with pro-government militia members under the terms of the peace deal.

Despite hopes of unity in the wake of the blast, fresh clashes broke out on Saturday between groups that have signed up to the agreement, according to the pro-government group GATIA (the Imghad and Allies Tuareg Self-Defence Group).

A post near Tin-Assako in the northeaste­rn Kidal region was attacked Saturday, GATIA secretary general Fahad Ag Almahoud said, accusing “elements of the CMA” — referring to ex-rebels from the Coordinati­on of Azawad Movements.

“The toll was high — there were 14 victims,” he told AFP.

The informatio­n was confirmed by a Kidal resident reached by telephone, but the CMA did not immediatel­y respond to the allegation­s.

Mali’s north fell under the control of Tuareg-led rebels and jihadist groups linked to al-Qaida in 2012. The Islamists sidelined the rebels to take sole control.

Although they were largely ousted by a French-led military operation in January 2013, implementa­tion of the peace accord has been piecemeal with insurgents still active across large parts of the region.

The joint patrols, which also include regular Malian army troops, are supposed to help prepare for the reorganiza­tion of the army.

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