Friday, May 23, 2014

Rebels Take Over Mali Townships
Malian troops being trained by the European Union.
Friday 23 May 2014 5:32p.m.
By Serge Daniel

The African nation of Mali is in crisis after losing two northern towns including the rebel bastion of Kidal to Tuareg separatists in a humiliating defeat, forcing the government to call for an "immediate ceasefire".

Around 20 Malian soldiers were killed and 30 wounded in the fighting that saw insurgents led by Tuareg rebels recapture the key northern town of Kidal, the defence minister said.

"There were dead and wounded on both sides," Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga told public television. "We counted around 30 wounded... and sadly around 20 dead."

But a leader of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), said 40 Malian soldiers had been killed and 70 taken prisoner since hostilities began on Saturday while 50 "brand new" 4x4s and 12 armoured vehicles had been seized along with several tonnes of weapons and ammunition.

In the latest military setback for the beleaguered force, United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that MNLA fighters had taken Menaka, a town of 20,000 in eastern Mali, 24 hours after the government admitted it had lost Kidal.

"The northern towns of Kidal and Menaka are now under the control of the MNLA, and MNLA movements in Anefis, Aguelhok and other locations have been reported," Dujarric said.

Dujarric said an estimated 3,400 residents of Kidal had fled the fighting.

France has called for the cessation of hostilities in the rebel-infested north of its former colony, pressing for an urgent resumption of talks between rebel groups and Bamako.

"It is essential that hostilities cease and inclusive talks start," said foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal.

The chairman of the African Union, Mauritania's President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, called on the crisis to be resolved with dialogue after he cut short a visit to Rwanda to travel to Bamako.

"We must make every necessary effort to soothe tempers... We will continue to surmount problems with dialogue," he said Thursday after a press conference in the Malian capital.

The Malian army has been pinned back since Saturday by a coalition of several armed groups, including Tuareg separatists.


Read more:

No comments: